BOSTON, Mass (WWLP) - Governor Deval Patrick is advising all public higher education schools in Massachusetts to let eligible undocumented immigrants pay in-state tuition rates.
At UMass Amherst, undocumented immigrants must pay the $26,000 dollar out-of-state rate. The in-state rate is half that. For Filipe Zamborlini, the decision means he'll be able to afford to go back to school.
His parents brought him to the U.S. from Brazil when he was 12-years-old, he's been living in Massachusetts ever since.
"The state's not making money on me because I'm not paying tuition and guess what, I'm going to be able to pay my tuition now. I'm going to go back to college and help the state," said Zamborlini.
The decision is based on an executive order signed by President Obama in June. It protects qualifying immigrants who were brought to the U.S. before they turned 16 from deportation. Patrick has interpreted this to mean that immigrants given this "deferred status" by the federal government are eligible for lower in-state tuition rates.
"It's a step in the right direction but it's not a substitute for comprehensive immigration reform. We still need that. This will affect a relatively small number of students," said Patrick.
But some immigrants oppose giving any citizenship-like benefits to people who skip the immigration process that they and their family members legally went through.
"I don't think that they should be able to stay here indefinitely or go into a citizenship track without going back to their countries of origin and applying with the other people who have not violated our immigration laws," said Richard Bond, whose grandparents were legally granted American citizenship.
The lower in-state tuition rates for eligible undocumented immigrants will apply to all 29 of the state's college and university campuses, including UMass Amherst, Westfield State University and Springfield Technical Community College.