Government Relations

UM Legislative Update Newsletter

June 26, 2006

Special committee on immigration reform holds hearing

A newly-appointed Special Committee on Immigration Reform for the Missouri House of Representatives met for the first time on Thursday, June 8, to begin studying the impact of immigration and illegal aliens on Missouri. During the past session two bills were introduced, HB1864 and SB1250, that included language that would require registrars at public institutions to certify to the General Assembly that they did not knowingly admit illegal aliens before the state appropriation for the institution is released. The bills also included a number of other provisions not related to higher education. Chairman Ed Emery (R-Lamar) announced at the hearing that the committee would revisit these issues during the summer and in the upcoming session.

During the June 8 hearing, the University of Missouri testified that it does not knowingly admit illegal aliens. Those students applying for admission who are not U.S. citizens must present the appropriate documentation before they can be considered for enrollment.  Students who do not have proper documentation are directed to an agency that is able to help them get the appropriate paperwork in order. The University of Missouri does, however, admit many students who are legal aliens and who do have proper documentation. These students make up an important part of the fabric of the institution and contribute to the diversity that the institution values.

Rep. Emery said that the committee was charged with identifying weaknesses in current immigration law, highlighting areas in which the state was experiencing a large number of legal violations, and exploring possible solutions to both problems.

“The number one priority of this committee is to protect those residents who are here legally,” Rep. Emery said. “Our highest priority is to protect law abiding residents and that includes residents born in the United States and those who have immigrated here legally.”

Rep. Emery said he was encouraged by the initial hearing and eager to continue the discussion with local leaders at upcoming hearings in St. Louis and Kansas City.

“It does seem like we are on the right track and we will continue to refine our search for answers and continue to hear testimony,” Emery said.

Representatives from a variety of state agencies testified to the impact illegal aliens have on their respective organizations. Testimony was provided by the Missouri Department of Public Safety, Department of Corrections, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Department of Social Services, and the Department of Higher Education.