Fight Brews Over Illegal Immigrants’ Ohio In-State Tuition Demands

Last week, amnesty advocacy group DREAMActivist Ohio delivered a petition with over 1,000 signatures to the Ohio Board of Regents demanding taxpayers subsidize illegal immigrants’ college education by offering in-state tuition rates at public schools. The Board surrendered, but at least one state legislator plans to fight back.

The leftist group, which also goes by the name “Undocumented Ohio,” is a state chapter of a national organization known both as Active Dreams, LLC and

DREAMActivist Ohio was co-founded by Marco Saavedra, a self-proclaimed illegal immigrant and a graduate of Kenyon College. Saavedra was arrested at a 2011 Charlotte, North Carolina amnesty rally, but was later released.

Unlike Saavedra, who claims he has been in the U.S. since he was 3 years old, DREAMActivist Ohio co-founder Alma Diaz-Fisher illegally immigrated into country at the age of 22. She was arrested in 2011 at a protest against an Alabama immigration law, but was released several days later.

Ceding to pressure from Saavedra and Diaz-Fisher’s group, the Board of Regents requested that Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine issue a legal ruling that would allow anyone with “lawful presence” in the U.S. to receive in-state tuition from Ohio’s public colleges.

DeWine agreed, deciding federal law dictated that some illegal immigrants seeking to attend Ohio’s public colleges and universities should be granted taxpayer-subsidized tuition rates.

Though multiple attempts at a national “DREAM Act” giving amnesty to immigrants who arrived in the country illegally as minors have failed, President Obama unilaterally granted amnesty with his 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive order.

Both Saavedra and Diaz-Fisher benefited in 2011 from the Obama Administration’s informal refusal to enforce immigration laws prior to DACA.

Arguing that DACA compelled him to do so, DeWine also ruled in May that some illegal immigrants can be issued Ohio driver’s licenses and state identification cards.

Board of Regents Acting Director of Communications Jeff Robinson insisted concerns about the controversial in-state tuition policy should be directed to the attorney general and not the Ohio Board of Regents.

However, Board Chancellor John Carey wrote in a July 31 letter that “we consulted with the Attorney General and have determined that these individuals would be eligible for in-state tuition if all other all residency conditions” are met, under existing Ohio law.

Representative Matt Lynch (R-Chagrin Falls), who described DREAMActivist Ohio as “lawbreakers organizing lawbreakers to break the law” in an interview with Media Trackers, is currently drafting legislation that would reverse Attorney General DeWine’s in-state tuition ruling.

Rep. Lynch criticized DeWine and Carey’s decision as “a further erosion of the sovereignty of the state of Ohio, when we have state officials who take unilateral action, strictly in response to something that the President of the United States wants to do.”

Lynch, who is also working to reverse DeWine’s ruling that illegal immigrants should be issued driver’s licenses, said taxpayers should not be expected to subsidize illegal immigration.

“Giving these so-called ‘DACA qualifiers’ in-state tuition not only is bad policy and bad politics, but it’s bad for the people of the state of Ohio,” Lynch said. “This was not anything that was decided by any legislature — not the federal Congress, not the Ohio legislature.”