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Immigrant Tuition Debate Heats Up Florida Governor's Race

Blaise Gainey


   It’s still several months from the primary elections but Governor Rick Scott and former governor Charlie Crist have already begun to take shots at one another. They’ve been going back and forth lately about in-state tuition for children of undocumented immigrants.  Crist stands behind the idea, and during a luncheon at Tiger Bay Tuesday he urged the governor and Republican leaders in the legislature to do the same.

“So I am calling on the legislature to fix it, and make sure they can get in-state tuition so college is more affordable and they can live their dream and do what’s right. And I’m calling on Rick Scott to sign it,” Crist says.

But Scott’s campaign charges Crist has flip-flopped on the issue. When he was a Republican governor, he applauded lawmakers for rejecting an in-state tuition bill to benefit the children of undocumented immigrants.  Now, as a Democrat, he backs the idea.  Meanwhile, Governor Scott says the federal government is the real culprit.

“As we all know the federal government has failed us they failed us on a lot of issues, but in particular immigration,” Scott says.

But will Scott’s blame game make points with Hispanic voters?  Florida A&M University assistant professor Dr. Will Guzman doesn’t think so.

“Well I’m glad he’s arrived and come to this conclusion but as so many other matters he’s late to the party,” Guzman says.

Still, being late to the party may not be better than not showing up at all. Dario Moreno professor of political science at Florida International University believes Scott made a good move.

“The question is does it improve his standing among Latino’s, Yes. Is he doing it for political motives, yes, but it doesn’t matter,” Moreno says.

Meanwhile, some in the Legislative Leadership are saying the issue really doesn’t require any change in the law.  Colleges and universities have the power to grant in-state tuition to anyone they choose.

Blaise Gainey is a State Government Reporter for WFSU News. Blaise hails from Windermere, Florida. He graduated from The School of Journalism at the Florida A&M University. He formerly worked for The Florida Channel, WTXL-TV, and before graduating interned with WFSU News. He is excited to return to the newsroom. In his spare time he enjoys watching sports, Netflix, outdoor activities and anything involving his daughter.