At a meeting Monday evening, the Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education unanimously voted to make illegal aliens eligible for in-state tuition rates at the State’s public colleges and universities. Under the policy, illegal aliens meeting the following criteria qualify for the tuition break: (1) attended high school in RI for at least three years; (2) received a high school or GED in RI; and (3) sign an affidavit stating an intent to seek legal status as soon as eligible. The Board approved this policy notwithstanding a prohibition of such under federal law. The relevant statute reads: “an alien who is not lawfully present in the United States shall not be eligible on the basis of residence within a State (or a political subdivision) for any postsecondary education benefit unless a citizen or national of the United States is eligible for such a benefit….” (8 U.S.C. §1623)

Not surprisingly, Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee praised the move, claiming that providing in-state tuition to illegal aliens would “improve the intellectual and cultural life of [Rhode Island] while strengthening our work force and helping our economy.” Perhaps rescinding his predecessor’s order requiring all public employers to verify the employment eligibility of their hires has made him forget that illegal aliens, regardless of whether they attend college, are prohibited from working in the United States? Recent news reports also indicate that Chafee is considering offering driver’s licenses to illegal aliens as well, a move that would turn Rhode Island into one of the most inviting states for illegal aliens.

Rhode Island now joins 12 other states in permitting illegal aliens to qualify for in-state tuition. These states include: Texas, California, New York, Utah, Washington, Oklahoma, Illinois, Kansas, New Mexico, Nebraska, Maryland, and Connecticut.