This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Rep. Carl Wimmer said Wednesday he has a bill "ready to go" that will deny in-state tuition rates to undocumented immigrants who wish to attend college in Utah.
The bill was filed and assigned a number with the Utah State Legislature Tuesday. The Herriman Republican said he anticipates its passage when the session convenes in January mainly because of the failure of the federal DREAM Act to pass the U.S. Senate.
"I think the message is clear. If Congress isn't going to pass the DREAM Act which the American people didn't want it doesn't make sense for Utah to have that same law on the books," Wimmer said. "We've had it on the books for several years and, to this date, taxpayers are still subsidizing the college education of illegal immigrants."
The DREAM Act would have allowed undocumented students brought to the United States illegally to earn their way to residency and permanent status through obtaining a degree or serving in the U.S. military.
It failed Saturday in the U.S. Senate when Democrats couldn't achieve 60 votes to overcome a Republican filibuster. The vote was 55-41. Republican Sens. Bob Bennett voted for it, but Orrin Hatch was absent for the vote.
Wimmer's bill is another attempt to reverse existing law in Utah that grants undocumented college students in-state tuition. Over the past several years, similar bills have failed by narrow margins in the Legislature.
Antonella Packard, a Utah-based Republican DREAM Act activist, said Wimmer's proposal is a mistake because taxpayers are already mandated by federal law to educate undocumented students through high school and there is little point in slamming the door on them if they've achieved good enough grades to graduate and continue on to college.
"It tells the children they have no future children who have grown up in the only country they've ever known," Packard said. "Whenever you go after children and this isn't a partisan position it's about common human decency."
But Wimmer believes it's about fairness.
"Many of them will still go to college they'll just have to pay the full rate," Wimmer said. "It's fundamentally unfair that an American-born citizen from Evanston, Wyo., would have to pay more to go the University of Utah than an illegal immigrant. It's fundamentally flawed."
The cost difference could be viewed as significant, however.
For example, the current price schedule for a Utah resident taking 12 units at the University of Utah is $2,645 per semester. Out-of-state student tuition which the undocumented immigrant would pay under Wimmer's bill is $8,313 per semester.