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Rodríguez pitches amendment to help 'Dreamers,' Schenck shoots it down

Rep. José Javier Rodríguez, D-Miami, made a last-minute attempt to include undocumented students in a proposal that would enable more Florida college students to qualify for in-state tuition.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Jeanette Nuñez, R-Miami, applies to students who were born in the United States, but whose parents are undocumented immigrants. Historically, those students have had to pay the higher out-of-state tuition rates.

Rodríguez wanted to see the measure expanded to include so-called Dreamers, undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. His amendment would have given colleges and universities the choice to offer (and pay for) in-state tuition for Dreamers who obtained their schooing in Florida.

“The time is now to act to help students who received their education in Florida but must pay expensive out-of-state tuition,” Rodríguez said in a statement.

But House Rules Chairman Rob Schenck, R-Spring Hill, wouldn't allow the amendment to be heard on the House floor Thursday, saying it was "not germane" to Nuñez's bill. Democrats were not given the opportunity to debate the point of order.

Before Schenck weighed in, Rep. Joe Saunders, D-Orlando, asked Nuñez why she did not include undocumented students in the proposal. Nuñez said there was too much movement on the national level for the Florida legislature to craft lasting policy.

"We decided it would not be good policy to put the cart before the horse," she said.

The House will vote on the policy (sans amendment) Friday.