RICHMOND— Members of the Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights (VACIR) state committee held a press conference today to support proposed legislation providing in-state tuition and driving privileges to undocumented Virginians. VACIR’s state committee, a coalition comprised of 16 organizations, is calling on Virginia lawmakers to fall in line with legislators from other states who have created resources and other opportunities for undocumented residents.
“The Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights exists to win dignity, power and quality of life for all immigrant and refugee communities. We stand committed alongside our communities today to advance these important issues so Virginia can be a more a just and welcoming place to all immigrants and refugees,” said Margie del Castillo of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, one of the member organizations of the VACIR state committee.
Due to the absence of federal immigration reform, immigrant justice advocates in Virginia are looking for ways to meet some of the immigrant community’s immediate needs on a state level. VACIR is working closely with state lawmakers to introduce legislation that would improve the lives of thousands of undocumented Virginians. According to the Migration Policy Institute, nearly 272,000 undocumented immigrants live in Virginia.
Of that number, nearly 47,000 were born between 1991-2001, making them college-age. Virginia currently only allows students enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood (DACA) program to pay in-state tuition rates at Virginia colleges and universities. VACIR is working to expand the eligibility requirements for in-state tuition so that more undocumented students qualify.
VACIR state committee members are also supporting legislation that would provide driving privileges to undocumented Virginians who have obtained the necessary requirements to become licensed drivers. A 2016 report from The Commonwealth Institute found that removing barriers to obtaining driver’s licenses improves safety, boosts Virginia’s economy and betters the lives of immigrant communities.