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Florida lawmakers pass bill enacting in-state tuition for undocumented students

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By Bill Cotterell

TALLAHASSEE, Florida (Reuters) – Florida legislators voted on Friday to allow students who are children of undocumented workers to qualify for in-state tuition rates at public universities and community colleges.

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Republican Governor Rick Scott said he will sign the bill, making Florida the 20th state to offer children brought to the United States illegally the same tuition as U.S. citizens.

The approval of the legislation comes as Scott faces a tight re-election campaign and Florida Republicans look to court the state’s influential Hispanic voters.

Early in his term, Scott stated publicly he would not support the legislation.

Riding a Tea Party wave of conservative support in 2010, Scott campaigned on a promise to bring Florida a law like Arizona’s hotly debated statute allowing police to check the immigration status of anyone they believe may be undocumented.

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He abandoned that idea after it failed in his first legislative session as governor. But in late 2011, he told Newsmax website that “with regard to in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, I completely oppose that.”

Now in a close campaign against his predecessor, former Governor Charlie Crist, Scott has been trying to appeal to Florida’s large and politically active Latino community.

He recently chose former state Representative Carlos Lopez Cantera of Miami as his lieutenant governor and publicly pressured lawmakers to take up the in-state tuition bill, which passed the House in an 84-32 vote on Friday. Senators approved the legislation on Thursday.

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When asked about his change on the issue, Scott cast his position as an advocacy of keeping college costs low for working families.

Out-of-state tuition is about four times the in-state rate.

“We are trying to right the wrongs of the previous administration that raised the price of a college education and opposed providing in-state tuition for children of immigrants,” said Scott.

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“The Legislature did the right thing, and I look forward to signing this historic legislation.”

Scott pointedly mentioned that Crist, elected as a Republican but now running as a Democrat, had also opposed in-state tuition for illegal immigrants in the past.

As soon as the bill cleared the Legislature, the Florida Democratic Party distributed a video clip of Scott’s 2011 remark that he would “completely oppose that” – along with quotes from his remarks to reporters earlier on Friday when he insisted his position had not changed.

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(Editing by Kevin Gray and Gunna Dickson)

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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WATCH: Larry Kudlow wilts under barrage of questions about Trump’s conflicting trade war comments

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Larry Kudlow, who appeared to have been drinking before his FOX News appearance last Sunday, probably wished he was drinking this Sunday after his stammering performance on CNN where he faced a barrage of questions from "State of the Union" fill-in host Brianna Keilar.

Speaking from France where he is attending the G7 conference with Donald Trump, Kudlow was put on the spot over the president's comments where he seemed to express regret over launching a trade war with China.

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Mnuchin begs Chris Wallace: Take the president ‘very literally’ except on being ‘the chosen one’

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Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin insisted on Sunday that Americans should take President Donald Trump's hyperbolic comments "very literally" -- but he allowed for some exceptions.

During an interview on FOX News Sunday, host Chris Wallace noted that Trump had recently "ordered" companies not to do business with China.

"When the president says something, how seriously, how literally should we take it?" Wallace asked.

"I think most of the time, you should take it very literally," Mnuchin insisted. "I think sometimes he says things that are meant to be a joke."

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White House spokesperson ridiculed for ‘pathetic’ spin on Trump’s trade war admission: ‘Does she think we believe that?’

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Hours after Donald Trump blithely admitted that he had "second thoughts" about his trade war with China that has damaged the U.S. economy and helped set the stage for a possible recession, White House spokesperson Stephanie Grisham was forced to issue a clarification about the president's comments.

Addressing Trump's G7 response about his tariffs, widely interpreted by the press as expressing some regret, Grisham issued a statement saying the president meant that he wished he had increased his market-destroying tariffs even more.

"The President was asked if he had ‘any second thought on escalating the trade war with China,'" White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham relayed. "His answer has been greatly misinterpreted. President Trump responded in the affirmative - because he regrets not raising the tariffs higher."

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