By LINDSAY OLIVIER
NORTH KINGSTOWN â€“ Last September, the Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education approved a controversial bill to allow undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates at the stateâ€™s colleges and the University of Rhode Island.
If Rep. Doreen Costa (R-North Kingstown and Exeter) has her way, however, that bill will soon be repealed.
On Tuesday morning, Costa introduced legislation opposing the Board of Governorâ€™s decision, saying she disagrees with the way the decision was adopted without the approval of the General Assembly, which has
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denied previous attempts to pass the measure over the past seven years.
According to Costa, the bill was never going to get through the Assembly and, knowing this, Governor Lincoln Chafee brought it to the Board of Governors instead as a way to bypass them.
And with Chafee appointing all but one member of the the Board of Governors, she said, it was pretty clear the measure would pass.
â€śOf course theyâ€™re going to vote in favor of anything the governor puts in front of them,â€ť she said. â€śHe showed plain disrespect for the process.â€ť
Costa opposes both the way in which the bill was introduced and the bill itself.
She says she wonders why undocumented immigrants should get a tuition break when residents who are legally in the state donâ€™t.
â€śThis isnâ€™t fair to the taxpayers of this state,â€ť she added. â€śParents work hard to be able to send their children to college. Itâ€™s a slap in the face when students who arenâ€™t here legally get a pass.â€ť
Tuesdayâ€™s hearing on the bill drew a packed house of college students, parents and state residents. Costa commended the level of intelligence and maturity the students showed.
â€śItâ€™s not about the studentsâ€™ character, rather, about process and whatâ€™s fair.â€ť
Gov. Lincoln Chafee supported the bill last year, saying it would â€śimprove the intellectual and culture life of Rhode Island while strengthening the workforce and economy.â€ť
Calls to Chafeeâ€™s office were unreturned by press time.