14,000 Students' Dreams Put on Hold - Senate Education Committee Fails to Move Tuition Equality Bill Forward

Nashville - As graduating seniors look forward to attending college this fall, undocumented students will still have to pay 3 times as much to attend public universities in Tennessee.  Despite broad support from the business community, the University of Memphis, the Nashville Public School system, and immigrant and US-born families across the state, the Senate Education committee failed to move legislation forward that would grant undocumented students access to in-state tuition. The legislation, SB1951, was predicted to generate needed revenue for Tennessee universities and increase college graduation rates, priorities that align with Governor Haslam's "Drive to 55" goals. The sponsor moved the bill to the General Sub-Committee.


The following is a statement from Cesar Bautista, a coordinator of TIRRC's campaign for Tuition Equality:

"It is unfortunate that the legislature has missed an opportunity to strengthen our state's economy, generate revenue for our universities, and give every student the opportunity to pay their fair share for college. When undocumented high school seniors graduate this May, they will have to pay 3 times as much for school, making higher education impossible for most."

"Immigrant youth have advocated for this bill for two years and we won't quit until every student can pay a fair price for college. Our dreams are what's at stake, and we will never give up." 


Immigrant Leaders Decry House Leadership Move to Advance Anti-Immigrant Bill as They Continue to Block Vote on Immigration Reform

For Immediate Release:                                                      
Friday, March 7, 2014                                                          

Contact: Dawn Le, 202-549-6798    

Washington, DC—This week the House Judiciary committee passed Rep. Diane Black's (R-TN) anti-immigrant bill out of committee and Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte has plans to move it for a floor vote.  

This is the first bill to advance since the House Republicans rolled out their principles on immigration last month and Speaker John Boehner acknowledged that it was time to get reform done. Yet rather than attempting to overhaul an immigration system everyone agrees is broken, Republicans have offered a bill that would eliminate the role of one Department of Homeland Security staff person. This bill puts on full display the massive political miscalculation the Republicans have made—and continue to make on the immigration issue.

This move by Republicans reveals that the extremist wing of the party is still clearly in charge, as real reform gets tabled and political messaging bills like this one are the only ones to see the light of day.

“In Tennessee, we’ve long known that Rep. Diane Black holds extremist views when it comes to immigration, said Stephen Fotopulos, the Executive Director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition. “What’s most upsetting about this bill passing out of the Judiciary committee is that the House leadership seems to be giving her a platform.”



Immigrant leaders from states who’ve been targeting Republican Congressmen to support real immigration reform also expressed their dismay with this legislative development.

Angelica Salas, the Executive Director for CHIRLA in California said, “It’s as if Republicans can’t help themselves. They say they are moving in the right direction, but then they have a knee-jerk reaction that always brings them back to these hateful, politically-motivated actions. Republicans and Democrats are already beginning to pay the price for its inaction on immigration reform and it’s only going to get worse if they don’t quickly learn their lesson.”

“John Boehner said just a few short weeks ago that it was time to get immigration reform done. The next thing we get is this bill to eliminate the only staff person at DHS there to hear the side of immigrants caught in the deportation machine,” said Laura Martin, Communications Director of PLAN Action Fund. “Rep. Joe Heck has said he supports immigration reform with a path to citizenship, but actions speak louder than words. It’s time for the reformers in the Republican Party to stand up to the extremists or the whole party is going to suffer.”

"This is just another sign that immigration reform is not moving forward in the House because of an obstructionist minority among the Republican leadership,” said Maria Rodriguez, the Executive Director of the Florida Immigrant Coalition. “It is time to heed the call of the majority of voters, including the voices in their own party like Representative Diaz-Balart who recently expressed that we are ready for reform." 







Metro Nashville Schools Endorses Tuition Equality


This afternoon, Dr. Jesse Register, the Director of Metro Nashville schools, reached out to Governor Haslam urging him to support Tuition Equality! 

Read Dr. Register's letter to Governor Haslam here.

Dr. Register has been a vocal supporter of immigrant students and has worked hard to ensure that every Tennessee student, regardless of their immigration status, has equal access to education.

Below is an excerpt from Dr. Register's letter to Governor Haslam:

"Let's invest in our future. Let's provide every Tennessee high school graduate the same access to affordable higher education through tuition equality by including all of them in both the in-state tuition promise and the opportunity for two years of community or technical college tuition free. Please make that our promise to all Tennessee students."

Dr. Jesse B. Register, Ed.D

Director of Schools


Community Screening of "The State of Arizona"

In partnership with Nashville Public Television, TIRRC will host a free screening of "The State of Arizona," a film that documents the community upheaval following Arizona's implementation of SB1070, infamously known as the 'show me your papers' law.

Mixing in interviews with footage of heated protest rallies and television coverage, the film tells the stories of Arizonans on all sides of this divisive issue — activists, politicians, Latino immigrants, ranchers, controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the newly empowered Tea Party movement, for whom immigration is a flashpoint subject — depicting a state and its people testing the edges of our democratic values.

The film will be followed by a brief panel discussion about immigration enforcement in Tennessee.

What: Screening of "The State of Arizona"

When: Friday, February 21st at 6:00pm (doors open at 5:30 for discussion with TIRRC staff and panel members)

Where: Casa Azafran (2195 Nolensville Road)

For questions, contact Eben Cathey:


Republican principles on immigration reform a good start, but fall short of providing real solutions

January 31, 2014 

Yesterday, House Republicans unveiled their principles for immigration reform legislation. This gesture is an encouraging step forward, but the principles themselves fall far short of providing real solutions for the 11 million undocumented Americans who deserve a pathway to citizenship.

The Republican principles include enforcement triggers, moving from a family-based immigration system to an employment-based system, mandatory employment verification, and unfortunately no pathway to citizenship for undocumented Americans except DREAMers. By focusing on border enforcement and failing to consider citizenship for undocumented Americans, Republicans have missed an opportunity to begin a conversation about meaningful solutions aligned with American values.

We are encouraged that Congress is showing an interest in resolving the deadlock, and now we need actual legislation that will fix our immigration system. TIRRC will continue to advocate for an end to the separation of families and for a pathway to citizenship for every aspiring citizen.