Assemblyman defends CA bill offering in-state tuition to students living in Mexico: ‘We need to adapt’

A proposed bill in California would allow some students living in Mexico to receive in-state tuition at community colleges in San Diego and Imperial Valley counties.

‘This bill acknowledges that there is a student population that is going back and forth on a regular basis and the talent that is available to us on the southern side of the border,’ Democratic Assemblyman David Alvarez of San Diego told The Sacramento Bee.

A bill introduced last month by Alvarez would create a five-year pilot program that would allow low-income students who live within 45 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border to pay tuition at seven community colleges without the added fees other out-of-state students have to pay.

Students would have to be U.S. citizens or Mexican citizens with a visa to be eligible for the program, and the legislation would limit the number of participating students to 200 per campus.

Alvarez told the Bee that he hopes the provisions of his bill could become permanent, even though they would expire in 2029 if the bill is passed in its current form. 

‘We need to adapt how we educate our future workforce,’ he said.

Bill Wells, mayor of border town El Cajon, denounced the proposed legislation as a ‘slippery slope’ that burdens taxpayers and undermines border security on ‘Fox & Friends First’ last week.

Citing California’s $22.5 billion budget deficit, Republican Assemblyman Devon Mathis of Porterville told the Bee that he did not agree with another taxpayer-funded program.

‘We need to ensure this bill won’t pull funds away from the rest of the community college system, and do more to encourage students to stay in California and build their careers here after graduation,’ he said.

The average cost of community college in California as of 2023 is $1,246 per year for in-state students and $6,603 for students who are out-of-state.

Similar programs exist in Texas for students who reside in Mexico and show financial need.

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