KSL AT NIGHT
New Utah law could extend in-state tuition to refugees & asylum seekers
SALT LAKE CITY — A House panel is endorsing a new Utah law, H.B. 102, which extends resident college tuition rates to refugees and political asylum seekers.
Sponsor of the bill Rep. Jordan Teuscher (R-South Jordan) joins KSL At Night hosts Leah Murray and Greg Skordas to discuss the details of the bill.
Teuscher begins by explaining the bill. He says it helps refugees and asylum seekers in Utah looking to access in-state tuition rates for higher education institutions.
He goes on to explain the requirements of the bill.
“So these individuals would immediately qualify upon entering the state,” he tells Murray and Skordas. “They have to be ones that have applied for refugee status or asylum status.”
Teuscher says the bill is meant for individuals who have not necessarily chosen to be in Utah. Rather, they are in the state out of necessity.
“They’ve been forced out of their homes. They’re political refugees or [from] war-torn countries whatever it may be,” he says. “They’re trying to rebuild their lives, and it would make sense that they should be able to access the opportunities we have here in our state.”
Inspiration for the potential new Utah law
A number of immigrants have moved to South Jordan and West Jordan, Teuscher says, which inspires his support for the bill.
“Last year I met with a group of Venezuelan refugees, and we ran a resolution in the house to support this community,” he says. “In all of the conversations I had with them, I met many people who said ‘Man, I would love to be able to continue my education … but I can’t afford the out-of-state tuition rates.'”
When it comes to how taxpayers factor into the bill, Teuscher says there is “no expected fiscal impact for this bill.” These individuals will still have to pay for their tuition.
According to Teuscher, everyone in attendance at the committee meeting was moved by the refugees and asylum seekers talks. Voices from Venezuela, Afghanistan, Kenya and Egypt were all heard, Teuscher recalls.
“I mean, hearing the stories of refugees … all of them saying the same thing. They want the American dream, they want to be here. And I think everyone was really moved,” he says.
Teuscher says he has received little pushback for the bill. Everyone he has spoken to has been supportive.
KSL at Night can be heard most weekdays from 7 to 9 p.m.
Related: Utah immigrant youth to benefit from new Weber State scholarship
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