Government Relations

UM Legislative Update Newsletter

March 16, 2007

Higher education immigration bills update

Three higher education immigration bills were heard during a Pensions, Veterans’ Affairs and General Laws Committee hearing on Wednesday, March 14, by the Missouri Senate. SB348, an immigration omnibus bill sponsored by Sen. Chris Koster (R-Harrisonville); SB626, sponsored by Sen. Luann Ridgeway (R-Smithville); and HB269, sponsored by Rep. Jerry Nolte (R-Gladstone), each contain provisions prohibiting illegal aliens from being admitted to public colleges and universities in Missouri. HB269 has already made its way through the House. However, none of the three bills were voted on during Wednesday’s hearing.

Each of the three bills would require that, prior to the approval of any appropriations by the General Assembly, all universities certify to an appropriations committee that they have not knowingly admitted any aliens unlawfully present in the U.S. the preceding year.

Koster’s bill contains additional provisions that would prohibit illegal aliens from receiving any state or local public benefit. Public benefit is defined as any “grant, contract, loan or license provided by an agency of state or local government; or any retirement, welfare, health, disability, housing, postsecondary education, food assistance, or unemployment benefit under which payments, assistance, credit, or reduced rates or fees are provided.”

SB348 also stipulates that applicants must provide affirmative proof that the applicant is a citizen or a permanent resident of the U.S. or is lawfully present in the U.S. Applicants who cannot provide proof at the time of application may sign an affidavit under oath, attesting to their legal residency in order to receive temporary benefits. Students who provide the sworn affidavit then have 90 days to provide adequate proof of residency.

Koster’s bill also would require all aliens to verify their residency status with the federal government prior to receiving any local or state benefit. In cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security, this certification may be made by utilizing the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program (SAVE), which is operated by the Department of Homeland Security.

In addition to the higher education provisions contained in SB348 and SB626, both bills also contain several other provisions relating to law enforcement authority, employment issues and a landowner’s ability to rent land to illegal aliens.

 

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