Children of undocumented immigrants in Illinois will see their tuition bills drop under a bill signed Sunday by Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
The new law allows those students, who had been paying out-of-state tuition, to attend state universities and community colleges at the much cheaper in-state rate.
"Every Illinois high school student should have the same opportunity to go to college regardless of their immigration status," Gov. Rod Blagojevich said to loud applause from the mostly Hispanic crowd at the signing ceremony at the Benito Juarez Community Academy.
"I have cousins who were completely devastated in their senior year because they couldn't afford to go to college," said Diana Mora, a 17-year-old Chicago high school student. She said the bill means she will have to spend thousands of dollars less when she attends the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana next fall.
Children of undocumented aliens qualify for in-state tuition rates if they graduated from an Illinois high school after attending for at least three years.
Critics argue that the measure could take seats in colleges from citizens and encourage more illegal immigration.
"We're just loading the cost of illegal aliens onto the taxpayers," said Phyllis Schlafly, president of the Eagle Forum, a conservative organization.
But Ray Bahamon, a Benito Juarez teacher, said society will benefit from the students' education.
"They will be able to be the best they can be," he said. "We will all be the first to profit from that."
By Don Babwin