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State Senate Blocks Immigrant Denier Bill, 20-19

With the gain of one critical Republican vote and another critical Republican abstention, a bill by Sen. Dick Black (R-Loudoun) to deny in-state tuition to students deemed lawful through the federal “deferred action for childhood arrivals” (DACA) program was defeated 20-19 in Richmond Tuesday.

DACA allowed undocumented students who meet certain requirements to work and educate themselves without fear of deportation. In addition to all Democrats (19) in the chamber, Republican State Sen. John Watkins (Midlothian) voted to defeat the measure, and Republican Sen. Jill Vogel (Winchester) left the floor to abstain from the vote. Among those who spoke against Black’s bill, State Sen. Barbara Favola (D-Arlington) argued, “We want students with dreams and drive to get an education and contribute to our economy. We want them to improve their own lives – this makes Virginia stronger. These students are not a drain on our economy. They are a plus.”

State Sen. Dick Saslaw (D-Springfield/Falls Church) said that of more than 350,000 undergraduates in Virginia public colleges and universities, only 81 have DACA status and pay in-state tuition. He said all their families are paying taxes to Virginia.