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DREAMing of a Better Tomorrow: In-State Tuition for Undocumented Immigrants

DREAMing of a Better Tomorrow: In-State Tuition for Undocumented Immigrants

Thursday, April 16, 2009

PERMALINK: http://www.progressivestates.org/node/22980

Valuing-Families

By: CAROLINE FAN

DREAMing of a Better Tomorrow: In-State Tuition for Undocumented Immigrants

In contrast to the drumbeat of anti-immigrant attacks in past legislative sessions, this year has seen states across the country proposing in-state college tuition rates for undocumented students, a move mirrored by Congress' proposed DREAM Act, which was re-introduced at the federal level on March 25th.  

A recent push in Oregon with HB 2939 for in-state tuition received a favorable editorial from the state's largest paper and had an overflow crowd at Monday's hearing. Oregon's legislation is typical of such bills in requiring a three year residency in the state with plans to become a lawful resident or citizen to qualify for the program. The Governors of New Jersey, Maryland, and Colorado have publicly stated their willingness to sign legislation allowing in-state tuition for undocumented students. However, sessions ended in Maryland and Colorado without passage of their in-state tuition bills although Colorado's in-state tuition bill, SB 170, passed the House and a Senate committee, coming just short of winning a floor vote.  Bills supporting in-state tuition have been introduced in Rhode Island, Missouri, and Connecticut as well.  Arkansas considered a bill, but it failed in the Senate, although the vote was closer than expected.

Failure of Anti-Immigrant Attacks on Current Laws: Currently ten states allow undocumented immigrants to enroll in state colleges and universities under the cheaper in-state tuition rate: California, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Washington.  Attempts by anti-immigrant legislators to repeal those laws failed in both Utah and Nebraska. Despite past attacks, Kansas didn't even bring up a repeal bill this session. In North Carolina, which blocked undocumented students from enrolling at community colleges after pressure from the state Attorney General, the legislature is now reconsidering their options as a new study found that allowing undocumented students to enroll at out-of-state levels would generate needed revenues for the state.

Most States Prefer Integrating New Immigrants: As PSN highlighted in a report last year, a majority of undocumented immigrants now live in states where in-state tuition is available, highlighting the fact that states with the longest experience with immigrant populations recognize the advantage of integrating immigrants into the economy rather than indulging in punitive policies.  

Most state leaders have in the end seen it as a question of whether or not states want to have a diverse, educated and highly-skilled workforce that can attract businesses for the long-term, something even many conservatives agree with: “Opening educational opportunity for more of our high school graduates means our state will have a more developed work force down the road, and will be able to attract more high-growth industries," said Dick Monfort, a prominent Republican businessman and chairman of the University of Northern Colorado Board of Trustees who supports the Colorado tuition equity bill.

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Valuing-Families

By: ADAM THOMPSON

Support for Single-Payer Health Coverage Widens

State legislatures and city councils across the country are raising the bar for how ambitious national health care reform should be, with many coming out in favor of single-payer health coverage reform.  The Maine House and Senate became the latest state chambers to pass a resolution calling on President Obama and the Congress to create a "national, universal, single-payer nonprofit health care plan."  As reported by Unions for Single Payer Health Care, at least 41 cities and states have endorsed single-payer reform, including the New Hampshire House, New York State Assembly, Kentucky House, Indianapolis City Council, Detroit City Council, Chicago City Council, and the Alachua County Board of Commissioners in Gainesville, Florida.

Yet, support for single-payer reform goes beyond resolutions.  State legislation to create single-payer like systems has moved in several states this year.

  • In Colorado, HB 1273, the "Colorado Guaranteed Health Care Act", would create an authority to study how best to establish a health care system that is the "administrator and payer for health care services" and "provides comprehensive medical benefits" to Coloradans.  The bill includes declarative language affirming the eminent importance of the patient-doctor relationship and that "[h]ealth care services should be provided to an individual with limited and efficient outside intervention and maximum transparency."  The bill has gained initial approval in the House but awaits final consideration by the chamber, likely in July.  
  • In Maine, in addition to passage of the single-payer resolution, LD 1365 would create a state single-payer health care system.  The bill had a public hearing on Monday in which providers joined patients to speak in favor of  the legislation.  
  • At least 8 states are considering single-payer legislation including California, Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Washington state.

This activity comes as President Obama reaffirmed his commitment to sweeping health care reform this year in a major domestic policy speech on Tuesday.  President Obama identified substantive health care reform - ensuring access to quality health care for all Americans and reducing the cost of health care that is taxing US businesses and families - as one of the "five pillars" of a robust and sustainable economic recovery.

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Promoting-Justice

By: CHRISTIAN SMITH-SOCARIS

African-American Incarceration in State Prisons for Drug Crimes Drops 22% in Six Years

A report by The Sentencing Project released this week shows that the number of African-Americans in state prisons for drug crimes dropped 21.6% from 1999-2005, a reduction of more than 31,000 individuals. And while the number of people incarcerated is still at historic highs, there was only a very slight increase (0.8%) in state drug offender prison populations during this six year period. This compares with a 1200% increase between 1980 and 1999. At the same time the federal prisons have not seen either a decrease in racial disparities among incarcerated drug offenders or a leveling in the overall drug offender population.

Potential Causes:  While the evidence is not conclusive, comparison of corrections data at the federal and state level, combined with data on arrest and conviction rates, suggests that the decreasing prevalence of crack cocaine, combined with some less biased criminal justice practices are the major drivers of the shift.  The crack cocaine “epidemic” drove racial disparities in state incarceration rates in two ways — by focusing enforcement resources on minority communities, and in some states by applying harsher mandatory minimum sentences  for crack cocaine over cocaine.  Significantly, there is evidence that racial bias in police and prosecution practices that has been a hallmark of our criminal justice systems is abating, as shown by:

  • Decrease in Arrest Rates — The proportion of adult African-Americans arrested for drug offenses (excluding marijuana, which rarely leads to incarceration) decreased 17.2% from 1999 to 2005. Either because of changes in patterns of drug use and sale, or through more enlightened policing strategies such as preventing racial profiling, clearly African-Americans and heavily African-American communities appear to be less of a focus for law enforcement.

  • Diversion and Sentencing — There has been a steady shift in the drug policies of many states toward a more public health oriented approach. This has been manifested in the growth of treatment-oriented courts from when the first began in 1989 to the 1,600 active now.  Additionally, decreases in the minimum sentences for crack as opposed to powder cocaine are likely contributing to the decline.

Policies to Build on This Trend:  There are a number of policy options that can help states wring racial disparities out of their criminal justice systems to continue the improvements identified in the Sentencing Project's study, including using Racial Impact Statements, Corrections Reform, Eliminating Mandatory Minimum Sentencing, and Prohibiting Racial Profiling

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Valuing-Families

By: ADAM THOMPSON

Reforming Sex Education to Prevent Sexually-Transmitted Diseases

Even as Planned Parenthood, MTV and the Kaiser Family Foundation team up in a campaign to prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STD), state legislatures are acting to ensure students' access to comprehensive sex education and are rejecting federal funding for failed abstinence-only programs.  Half of all sexually active people will have an STD by the age of 25 with 19 million new STD cases occurring each year.  These statistics highlight the need for improving youth sex education. 

While the previous Administration pursued a failed abstinence-only policy over the last 8 years, 25 states rejected federal funding for abstinence-only sex education and funded comprehensive sex education.  A look at 2009 legislation shows that states continue to view comprehensive sex education as a priority.  As Planned Parenthood reported in an e-mail, so far in 2009, 22 states (AZ, FL. HI, IL, IN, KS, KY, MA, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, NY, OH, OK, OR, RI, TX, UT, VA, and WA) have introduced 53 proactive sex education measures designed to expand students’ access to comprehensive sex education, including:

  • Requiring Medical Accuracy:  Many of these states are requiring that if sex education is being taught then it must be comprehensive and medically accurate such as HI SB 777
  • Options for Teaching Healthy Living: Others, like NC HB 88 would allow all parents the option of having life-saving information on preventing unintended pregnancy and STD's taught to their teen through the healthy living curriculum.
  • Sex Education Grant Programs: Others such as NY HB1806 would establish an age-appropriate sex education grant program within their state health departments to be appropriated to school districts, school-based health centers, and community-based organizations to assist them in conducting a thorough and comprehensive education program aimed at preventing unintended pregnancies and occurrences of sexually transmitted diseases among youth. 

"Get Yourself Tested", a nationwide campaign using youth-oriented entertainment and media to raise awareness of the prevalence of STD's, the importance and ease of getting tested and to encourage parents to talk to their children about sexually transmitted infections.

Potential Federal Funding for State Programs:  The prevalence of STD's has resulted in federal legislation, the Responsible Education About Life Act, or REAL Act  (S. 611), which would fund "comprehensive, medically accurate, age-appropriate sex education" in America's schools.  As Planned Parenthood pointed out in a press release praising the REAL Act, there is currently no federal funding stream dedicated to supporting comprehensive sex education.  Conversely, the Bush Administration funneled $1.5 billion over the past 8 years to abstinence-only sex education programs despite numerous scientific studies showing that such programs do not prevent sexual activity and leave America's youth woefully uneducated about how to protect their sexual health.  

Public Support for comprehensive sex ed is strong.  A poll commissioned by the National Women's Law Center and Planned Parenthood found that 76 percent of voters support comprehensive sex education in public schools.

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Research Roundup

New reports on the failure of inadequate health insurance for families - and what needs to be done

  • When Coverage Fails: Causes and Remedies for Inadequate Health Insurance - a Community Catalyst report outlines the implications of a growing “underinsurance” problem as the number of Americans paying more for health insurance policies that cover less has increased 60 percent since 2003 and approximately 25 million Americans—one in five insured adults—are underinsured.  With the economy intensifying the problem, the report urges government leaders to act to ensure families who purchase insurance get the coverage they need.
  • Health Reform: Delivering for Those Who Deliver Health Care - This Center for American Progress report identifies the core elements of health reform as insurance coverage expansion, a focus on prevention, enhanced primary and chronic care management, and comparative measurements of effectiveness.  By integrating these approaches, health care professionals will be able to better serve their patients.

Excessive executive pay versus rental costs for many working families:

  • Executive PayWatch 2009 - This updated resources by the AFL-CIO has a special focus on CEOs benefiting from government bailouts, yet paying themselves tens of millions of dollars each even as working families suffer pay cuts and rising unemployment.
  • Out of Reach: Persistent Problems, New Challenges for Renters - This National Low-Income Housing Coalition report details the costs of rental housing, finding that in 30 states, more than two full-time minimum wage jobs are necessary for an individual to afford a two-bedroom apartment

This tax weeks highlights reforms that improve budget fairness-- and those that don't:

  • Promoting State Budget Accountability Through Tax Expenditure Reporting - For states seeking to get better control of their budgeting process, this indepth report by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities outlines how tax credits, deductions and exemptions usually bypass annual budget reviews and best practices for tracking them.   By creating an annual tax expenditure report, states can better measure their costs and potential effectiveness, although most of the 42 states with such reports omit critical information such the number of households that benefit from the programs.
  • Georgia Budget Raises Taxes on Middle-Income Families to Pay for Capital Gains Tax Breaks for Wealthiest Investors - The title of this ITEP report says it all; in typical conservative fashion, the budget just approved by the Georgia General Assemlby increases taxes on the poorest 95% of the population for a tax break that overwhelmingly benefits the richest 1% of the population.

There are a number of new resources out recently on immigration.

New reports on child care and pre-K:

New reports highlight how racial inequality still drives economic suffering in black and latino communities:

  • Weathering the Storm: Black Men in the Recession - This Center for American Progress report finds that African-American men are experiencing a particularly alarming level of job loss, emphasizing why racial equity and equal opportunity needs to be at the forefront of any economic recovery and job creation plans.  Key policies needed include toughening anti-discrimination laws, modernizing unemployment insurance systems, strengthening the freedom to form unions, improving education and "green job" opportunities in low-income communities, and comprehensive re-entry services for ex-offenders.
  • Predatory Profiling - Payday lenders in California locate overwhelmingly in African-American and Latino areas, draining $247 million out of those communities, according to this Center for Responsible Lending report.  Even when controlling for income and other factors, predatory lenders are still half as likely to locate in white neighborhoods-- emphasizing why policies to restrict predatory lending rates is a racial as well as economic justice issue.

Job Sprawl Revisited: The Changing Geography of Metropolitan Employment - a new Brookings report finds that in 98 of the largest metro areas, job share continues to shift away fromt he urban core. This decentralization of employment has implications, for housing, transportation and economic development policies that the report details.

Ohio Election Summit: Framework for Reform- This Brennan Center writeup outlines a broadly endorsed approach to protecting voting rights, based on Ohio's experiences, by improving early voting procedures, strengthening statewide voter registration databases, improving poll worker recruitment and training, simplify provisional voting processes and expand post-election audits.

Facts Still Count - This Free Exchange On Campus fact-checking report rebuts a argument by rightwinger David Horowitz that university classrooms are dominated by politically-biased faculty, highlighting the typically shoddy research and cherry-picked data used by the right.   The report is a good case study on how to expose rightwing propaganda and the manipulation of facts typically used.


Please email us leads on good research at research@progressivestates.org

Resources

DREAMing of a Better Tomorrow: In-State Tuition for Undocumented Immigrants

Washington HB 1079 (2003)
National Immigration Law Center -- Why Enactment of the DREAM Act would aid the ailing economy
UCLA -- Undocumented Students
Educators for the Dream Act

Support for Single-Payer Health Coverage Widens

California Nurses Association - New California Single-Payer Bill Passes First Hurdle
Single-Payer National Health Insurance
Healthcare-NOW! - May 30th: National Day of Action
Unions for Single Payer Health Care

African-American Incarceration in State Prisons for Drug Crimes Drops 22% in Six Years

The Sentencing Project - The Changing Racial Dynamics of the War on Drugs
The Sentencing Project - Drug Courts: A Review of the Evidence
Progressive States Network - Racial Impact Statements
Progressive States Network - Budget Savings From Reducing Incarcerations
Families Against Mandatory Minimums
American Civil Liberties Union - Racial Profiling

Reforming Sex Education to Prevent Sexually-Transmitted Diseases

Progressive States Network - States Promoting Contraception to Reduce Unwanted Pregnancies and Abortion Rates
Planned Parenthood - Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Safer Sex
Guttmacher Institute - State Policies in Brief: Insurance Coverage of Contraceptives
National Women's Law Center - Reproductive Choices Five Years of Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Education: Assessing the Impact and Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs

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The Stateside Dispatch is written and edited by:

Nathan Newman, Interim Executive Director
Caroline Fan, Immigration and Workers' Rights Policy Specialist
Julie Schwartz, Broadband and Economic Development Policy Specialist
Christian Smith-Socaris, Election Reform Policy Specialist
Adam Thompson, Health Care Policy Specialist
Julie Bero, Executive Administrator and Outreach Associate
Austin Guest, Communications Specialist
Marisol Thomer, Outreach Coordinator

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