CASA Priorities of In-State Tuition for Undocumented Students, ID for All, and DMV Data Sharing

26 February 2021, Woodbridge, Virginia – After extensive advocacy and organizing work, the largest immigrant and Latino advocacy group in the region CASA applauds the Virginia General Assembly for moving its top priorities bills of in-state tuition assistance for undocumented students (HB 2123/SB 1387), identification for all (HB 2138), and protecting DMV data (HB 2163). CASA will encourage Governor Ralph Northam to sign these bills into law as soon as they reach his desk.

There are also several victories within the budget, including extending prenatal coverage through the FAMIS program to all expecting mothers, regardless of immigration status, and identifying strategies to finance healthcare services for undocumented immigrant children. Additionally, there is funding to enhance COVID-19 communication and outreach efforts to at-risk populations and increase interpretation and translation services through the 2-1-1 line to connect callers to community services to assist with housing, health, and other needs.

CASA’s Virginia Advocacy Specialist Yely Montano shared, “Despite the circumstances of being in a pandemic and operating through a virtual and shortened session, we were able to advance legislation that promotes equity and seeks to protect and support our immigrant community. In moving these bills forward, the General Assembly demonstrated its commitment to serving every Virginian.”

CASA’s Virginia Director Luis Aguilar issued the following statement in response.

“Winning driving privileges for immigrant drivers is a major victory that might no longer be clouded by the knowledge that anti-immigrant federal agencies like ICE could freely search for anyone in the DMV database without a warrant. Safeguarding immigrant drivers like Gloria who trust the Commonwealth with their personal information and keeps them away from detention and deportation.

“Dropping out because tuition is too expensive has too long stopped immigrant students from achieving their dreams. That stops in Virginia, as the state will soon provide the free in-state tuition and other financial aid assistance that all students, including immigrants need. That means CASA members like Alexandra can study criminal justice and finally serve as an FBI agent, her lifelong dream.

“Having identification offers security and freedom to live a full life, without having trouble opening a bank account, leasing an apartment, or getting medical attention at the hospital. Virginia’s immigrants celebrate as this bill has moved in the legislature, promising that their interactions with public agencies be done without the worry of not being able to provide an identification.

“We extend our gratitude to the General Assembly as it signals that Virginia is moving towards embracing the immigrant families who love calling the Commonwealth home.”