Students who grew up their entire life in Florida shouldn’t be allowed to pay in-state tuition at one of the state’s public universities if they are undocumented because doing so would reward “bad behavior,” according to a leading Tea Party congressman.
Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL), most recently in the headlines for his effort to impeach Attorney General Eric Holder, held a town hall meeting in Chiefland on Tuesday. One constituent, teacher Marihelen Wheeler, asked the freshman Republican whether he could support allowing undocumented students who were raised and educated in Florida to pay in-state tuition at public colleges, as is the case in 16 states.
“I cannot, because you’re rewarding bad behavior,” Yoho explained. He then went on to complain about ” the Hispanic group or the American Latino group or the Hispanic American group,” asking “how many times are we going to hyphenate America?”
WHEELER: When children come into my classroom, I can’t ask them if they are documented or not, it’s illegal for me to do that. [...] That works very well until they’re 18 years old, and I would like to know if you could support, in Florida, a tuition requirement so they did not have to pay out-of-state tuition if they were raised in Florida, educated in Florida, and are eligible for a college education in Florida? They’re paying three times now tuition for a public school even though they’ve been educated at your expense through that whole public education. Can you support that?
YOHO: I cannot, because you’re rewarding bad behavior. Not of them, of their parents. [...] I sit at these groups and they say that we have to do what’s best for the Hispanic group or the American Latino group or the Hispanic American group and the Asian group and the Vietnamese group and the Taiwanese group and it went to the Asian Pacific American group. I was just kind of dumbfounded and said, “wait a minute, how many times are we going to hyphenate America? Can we appease every one of these groups or should we be setting a policy that’s best for America?”
Even though Yoho says he doesn’t want to reward the parents’ “bad behavior,” it is the children who won’t be able to attend the university of their choice whom he’s punishing.
Students at the University of Florida this year pay an in-state tuition rate of $6,270 (not including room and board), while the out-of-state rate is a whopping $28,548. Not only is tuition four-and-a-half times larger, but that increase is a significant burden for many undocumented immigrant families who tend to be poorer than the country as a whole.
Yoho isn’t the only Republican to take a bold stand against “hyphenated” Americans. Others include Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) and losing Virginia Lieutenant Governor candidate E.W. Jackson (R), who said that standing “for an end to the hyphenated American” was one of his “Top 7 Issues.”