Monday, November 03, 2008

Illegal immigrants and MnSCU 

I received last night an email from Joshua Behling, the challenger in the MN House District 15B race against incumbent Larry Haws. There was an on-campus debate of local House races. I've reprinted the email with permission:
We just finished up a debate at the campus of St. Cloud State University. There were 10 questions that were asked by the moderators and then questions from the audience were asked.

A question was asked by a student of SCSU. He spoke with broken English. His question was, "With the large amount of immigrants in this area and state what will you do as a Legislator to make sure that immigrants have an opportunity to succeed?"

Rep. Larry Haws responded 1st by saying, "What kind of immigrants are you talking about?"

The student responded, "Well there are a lot of different immigrants but mostly in this area I guess, Somalians."

Rep. Larry Haws responded, "Are we talking legal or illegal immigrants?"

The student responded, "Legal."

Rep. Larry Haws responded, "Good, because if your talking about legal, then I say send 'um here [SCSU], we'll check you at the door. If you are talking illegal then send 'um over to Tech [St. Cloud Tech College]."

There was about a 5-10 second pause as the ENTIRE room gasped and re-adjusted themselves in their chairs.

You could see that all but a few of the students looked at him and each other thinking, I can't believe he just said that.
The requirements for international student admissions at SCTC are here. The application form does ask you about your status. If you are not in status, you are to provide a written explanation.

However, Rep. Haws has pointed out something interesting. The House Research Department put out a document in December 2004 titled "Noncitizens and Minnesota Law". It reads from page 47:
The application forms of Minnesota�s two public higher education systems�the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State Colleges and University (MnSCU)�require information on the applicant�s residency, citizenship, and visa status. Application forms also request an applicant�s Social Security number as an optional piece of information. MnSCU requires international students and nonimmigrants to complete separate application forms. Admission to Minnesota�s public postsecondary institutions does not depend on being a legal resident of the United States.
And on page 49:
...MnSCU board policies allow resident tuition for refugees under federal law and authorize MnSCU institutions to adopt policies to exempt nonimmigrant international students from nonresident tuition. Several MnSCU institutions operate under a board-approved tuition waiver programs that authorize a single tuition rate for resident and nonresident students. These campuses can charge resident tuition to undocumented students without being in violation of federal law. The University of Minnesota also has policies providing exemptions to the nonresident classification. None of the exemptions are based on citizenship or immigration status.
Emphasis added in both. My data is a few years old here, but I don't recall seeing this changed. I'll post this with hope that you'll correct me in comments if I missed a legal change.

Now schools might treat the legal status on their own differently -- MnSCU seems to provide latitude to schools to request your I-20 or I-94 forms, which may mean they can turn you down if you don't have them. A campus "may have" additional requirements. So perhaps Rep. Haws has pointed out something about SCTC that we didn't know; they might not have that additional requirement. Perhaps we have something to look at for the next Legislature.

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