The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa lawmakers advance bill requiring proof of U.S. citizenship to receive in-state tuition

A panel of Iowa lawmakers advanced the bill on Monday.
Ayrton Breckenridge
The Iowa State Capitol is seen in Des Moines on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024.

A panel of Iowa lawmakers advanced a bill Monday requiring students to prove their U.S. citizenship to receive in-state tuition and fees despite protest from the lone Democrat on the panel and advocates who spoke at the hearing.

House File 2128 requires students to provide proof of citizenship or lawful presence in the country to classify for in-state tuition and fees at Iowa’s three regent universities and some community colleges.

The bill follows Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds’ efforts to control illegal immigration in Iowa and her support of Texas’ efforts to secure their southern border. On Thursday, Reynolds issued a joint statement with 24 Republican governors supporting Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas’ constitutional right to self-defense. Abbott faced a legal battle with the Justice Department in July, suing the governor for installing a floating barrier on the Rio Grande.

Iowa Rep. Sami Scheetz, D-Cedar Rapids, was the only dissenting vote. Scheetz said he voted against the bill because it is “in search of a problem.” Scheetz questioned the point of the legislation and said they should be focusing on funding higher education and the rising cost of obtaining a college education instead.

“We don’t need the regents in the state of Iowa turning into our immigration services, having to check every single applicant to Regent universities to see whether they’re citizens,” Scheetz said.

The two Republican representatives on the panel supported moving the bill forward to the Judiciary Committee.

Iowa Rep. Skyler Wheeler, R-Orange City, described the bill as common sense and said taxpayer money should not be used to subsidize undocumented migrants’ higher education.

Wheeler dismissed accusations that the legislation is hateful, “it is not hateful to ensure American citizenship.”

Iowa Rep. Taylor Collins, R-Mediapolis, also voted in favor of the bill. Collins said he must address the issue of illegal immigration. Collins pointed to the record numbers of border crossings at the southern U.S. border.

According to a PolitiFact analysis, U.S. immigration authorities have recorded about 7.2 million instances of migrants at and between ports of entry during Biden’s presidency. However, that number does not show how many migrants entered and remained in the U.S. The data tracks events, not people, meaning the same person can be recorded multiple times.

Keith Saunders, a lobbyist representing the University of Iowa and the Iowa Board of Regents, said the bill places a burden on the regents and creates barriers for Iowa students seeking secondary education within the state.

“I would ask that you not put the universities in the position of judging the veracity of legal documents or necessitate us having to create another bureaucracy on campus to both collect documentation, that our students are not required to show right now, and then force us to store that information as well,” Saunders said.

Sophia Martinez, a recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and an Iowa resident, spoke about navigating paying for secondary education. Martinez said there were extra barriers placed in her path that were not there for her classmates.

“We want what’s best for the state and what is best for the state is educational equity for all,” Martinez said.

Joe Henry, the state political director for the Iowa League of United Latin American Citizens, said the league’s councils in Iowa oppose the bill.

Henry said the bill would have an impact on the state’s workforce, as it would prevent young Iowans from receiving the education they need to continue in the workforce.

“This makes no sense, because it’s an attack upon the immigrant community,” Henry said. “Immigrants pay taxes, they pay their bills, they take care of things. They need to make sure that their kids can get a good education. They should not be charged out-of-state tuition. This is wrong in so many ways.”

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About the Contributors
Roxy Ekberg
Roxy Ekberg, Politics Reporter
Roxy Ekberg is a first year at the University of Iowa. In the Honors Program, she is double majoring in journalism and political science with a minor in Spanish. Prior to her role as a politics reporter, she worked news reporter at the Daily Iowan and worked at her local newspaper The Wakefield Republican.
Ayrton Breckenridge
Ayrton Breckenridge, Managing Visuals Editor
Ayrton Breckenridge is the Managing Visuals Editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and cinema. This is his fourth year working for the DI.