By Rondell Treviño, Founder, Memphis immigration Project
On February 1, 2018, Senator Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga) and Representative White (R-Memphis) re-introduced legislation that would allow all Tennessee graduates, regardless of their immigration status, to pay in-state tuition (SB2263/HB2729). Under current policy, undocumented students are not eligible for in-state tuition rates and must pay more than three times as much as their classmates to attend a public college or university, no matter how long they’ve lived in Tennessee. Sadly, these policies have put a college education out-of-reach for many in Tennessee. If passed, this bill would allow Tennessee graduates to pay their way through colleges at the same rate as their peers.
The following is a statement from Senator Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga):
“This bill allows more students to pay into our colleges and universities, allows more Tennesseans to get a college degree and contribute even more to our state and our economy. This is an education and economic development bill that benefits our whole state. That’s why 72% of Tennessee voters support this common-sense approach.”
The following is a statement from Representative Mark White (R-Memphis):
“All children should have hope that they can better their future through education. I am encouraged that President Trump agrees that these children are innocent and should not bear the blame of a broken immigration system. All of our futures rest in the strength of our children.”
Why should Christians care?
Tennessee is home to approximately 25,000 undocumented Immigrant youth who have lived here most of their lives. Tennessee invests in undocumented students from kindergarten through high school, and undocumented parents invest in Tennessee, paying more than $107.4 million in state and property taxes in 2014.
Leviticus 19:33-34 says, “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” God tells Israel (and us) that when it comes to Immigrants, we are not to do him (or her) wrong but rather, love the Immigrant as yourself.
For Immigrant youth to get invested in from the state of Tennessee from Kindergarten through High School, yet when they want to pursue higher education, they must pay out-of-state tuition is wrong and unfair. As Christians, however, one of the best ways we can love these Immigrant youth is not only by sharing the Gospel with them, but applying the Gospel holistically and helping advocate for the passing of this bill.
Immigrant youth in Tennessee deserve an equal opportunity at higher education. Let’s help them achieve this.
As Cameron Ventura, Chapter Director for MiP says, “We support freeing these individuals to live their life, to live the American dream, to work as hard as they can and to support this great state with their tax dollars. This problem has a clear and ready solution. Join me in fighting for it.”
Memphis immigration Project exists to engage issues of Immigration from a biblical perspective.