H.B. 208 moves to House

By Jeremy Thompson, Staff Writer

A bill that would prevent undocumented students recieving in-state tuition from working passed a legislative committee Wednesday, despite the protests of U student leaders who said the bill would only prevent such students from receiving higher education.

House Bill 208 would require all undocumented students to sign an affidavit stating they have not worked during the past calendar year, or their eligibility to pay in-state tuition would be revoked.

The bill passed through the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee by a near unanimous vote and will be presented to the Utah House of Representatives for a vote.

Bill sponsor Rep. Richard Greenwood, R-Roy, said the bill does not try to punish or harm undocumented students, but to help them understand that they are committing a serious crime.

“If an undocumented student is working, he or she must have supplied a Social Security number that is not their own,” Greenwood said. “Using someone else’s Social Security number is a felony. We are trying to protect students from unintentionally breaking the law.”

Jon Hayes, vice president of the Associated Students of the University of Utah, said the bill extinguishes the opportunity for undocumented students to get an education.

“It is impossible to go to college without working,” Hayes said. “If this bill passes there is no way undocumented students can pay for school by themselves. You will have effectively eliminated them as potential students.”

Greenwood said the bill does not mention or address the issue of in-state tuition, but rather is an attempt to fight identity theft and other related felonies. He also said that the bill is to help students realize they cannot break the law without facing serious consequences.

Other representatives and activists see the bill as a direct attack on undocumented students.

“Although this bill does not set out to harm individuals, that is exactly what it does,” said House Minority Leader David Litvack, D-Salt Lake City, the only committee member to vote against the bill. “I think that the unintended consequence will be that you will deny access to higher education to students that are working to make their life better.”

Student Body President Patrick Reimherr said the bill has major flaws.

“This bill creates a climate of fear, and targets a small portion of the student body at the U,” he said. “We need to focus on pathways and solutions, not on trying to prevent people from having the opportunity to get a higher education.”

Litvack said that the students affected most by the bill are being unfairly targeted.

“Most of these students were brought to this country as infants,” he said. “They don’t know any other home. They are Americans in every way, except the papers that say they are legal. How can we sit here in good conscience and deny them the right to a higher education?”

[email protected]

Nate Sorensen

ASUU Vice President Jon Hayes speaks in a committee hearing discussing HB 208 at the state capitol. Hayes and other ASUU representatives testified against the bill that would prevent undocumented college students from working.