Florida bills would make DACA and TPS students eligible for higher eduction scholarships

A group called the Florida Latinx Hispanic American Student Union has been promoting legislation that would extend state financial aid to recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and to visitors who were provided Temporary Protected Status (TPS), due their having come from a select group of countries.

Advocates want these categories to become eligible for the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program, a lottery-funded scholarship program that rewards Florida high school graduates who have demonstrated potential for success in higher education. Eligibility is currently limited to students or students with parents who have established legal residence in Florida.

In the Florida Legislature 2019 session, matching bills were introduced in the Senate and House of Representatives to make DACA and TPS students eligible for state grants.

Fentrice Driskell is a Democrat who represents Hillsborough County in the Florida House of Representatives. Fentrice Driskell co-sponsored the legislation in the Florida House and was interviewed on the subject in March 2019 by WUSF, west-central Florida’s NPR station. Here is how she described the bill:

The bill would provide DACA and TPS recipients the opportunity to be classified as Florida residents for the purpose of receiving financial aid awards based upon their merit. Specifically, it will help expand the Florida Bright Futures scholarship to qualifying well-deserving Dreamers across the state in order to help them bear some of the costs of attending college.

In 2019, the proposed legislation died in the Higher Education & Career Readiness Subcommittee of the Florida House of Representatives, and met a similar fate in the Committee on Education of the Florida Senate.

Florida HB 693: Student Eligibility Requirements for State Financial Aid Awards and Tuition Assistance Grants

Matching proposals have been introduced in the two chambers of the Florida Legislature for the 2020 session. Each version of bill has been given the title Student Eligibility Requirements for State Financial Aid Awards and Tuition Assistance Grants.

2020 House Bill 693 was introduced by Carlos Guillermo Smith, a Democrat from Orlando, and is co-sponsored by Cindy Polo, a Democrat from Miramar. 2020 Senate Bill 188 was introduced by Annette Taddeo, a Democrat from the Florida Senate's District 40, which encompasses Kendall and its surrounding areas in southern Miami-Dade County.

To legal code limiting student eligibility for state financial aid awards and tuition assistance grants, the bill would append exceptions for applicants who were granted Temporary Protected Status by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or were granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status by the DHS.

Democrats in Florida are not bold enough — or foolish enough — to openly declare a desire to grant amnesty for all illegal aliens in the United States. What is happening is that the importance and legal meaning of the term ‘citizenship’ is being chipped away in tiny increments.

Current status

The House version of the bill has been referred to four different committees, namely the Higher Education & Career Readiness Subcommittee, the Education Committee, the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee, and the Higher Education & Career Readiness Subcommittee.

The Senate version has been referred to the following three committees: Education, Appropriations, and the Appropriations Subcommittee.

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