Governor Charlie Baker would veto a bill allowing undocumented immigrants access to in-state tuition and state aid, he said on Boston Public Radio Thursday.
In 2012, former Governor Deval Patrick granted in-state tuition and access to state aid for any students who qualified for the Obama Administration's Deferred Action For Childhood Arrival program, or DACA. In order to qualify, students must have come to the United States before the age of 16, have lived continuously in the U.S. since 2007, have graduated from a U.S. high school, and have a felony-free criminal record, among other requirements. DACA status guarantees temporary permission to stay in the United States without deportation, and a work permit.
The Massachusetts legislature is currently considering expanding that access to any students who have lived in the state for more than three years and have completed a high school degree or GED here.
Baker says he supports his predecessor's initiative because immigrants who qualify for DACA status are automatically granted work permits. That means that once they graduate, they can legally enter the workforce in Massachusetts. That is not the case, however, for all the students that would qualify for in-state tuition under the legislature's proposal.
"The reason we have a higher education system we support and pay taxes for is because we want that to be a way for people who grow up here and live here or come here can better themselves, improve their station in life, and become productive members of our community after they graduate because they go to work here," Baker said. "These folks can't go to work here."
Baker said federal intervention would be required to expand work permit access.
"I sure wish the federal government would get its act together on dealing with immigration reform, because immigration reform ultimately becomes an enormous issue for citizens, governors, mayors, city managers, local officials," he said. "The consequences of the fed's inability to get their head wrapped around this one play out every day all over this country."
Without a federal intervention, Baker said, he would likely veto the legislature's proposal.
To hear more from Governor Charlie Baker, tune in to Boston Public Radio above.