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Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick directed state colleges and universities to offer taxpayer-subsidized tuition rates and fees to illegal aliens who obtain work permits under the Obama Administration’s executive amnesty. The change dramatically reduces tuition and fee costs for illegal aliens who, until now, had to pay out-of-state rates.

For example, the nonresident tuition rate at the University of Massachusetts Amherst costs $26,645 while the in-state rate is $13,230. At the Bunker Hill Community College the in-state cost is $5,640 versus $13,880 for nonresidents.

Patrick’s move is likely to anger many in the state legislature who sought to eliminate rewards for illegal immigration this year. State legislators enacted over the governor’s veto legislation that bans illegal aliens from registering vehicles in the Commonwealth. The legislature also increased penalties for unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, and established penalties for knowingly permitting an unlicensed individual to operate a vehicle and knowingly employing for hire as a motor vehicle operator any unlicensed individual.

House Republican Leader Bradley Jones Jr. criticized the governor's action. “The implementation of in-state tuition rates for illegal immigrants should be stopped immediately,” Jones said. “Regardless of whether or not the governor and I agree on this issue, the topic at hand should be how best to provide an affordable education for all of Massachusetts’ residents.”

State Senator Richard Moore, a prominent Democrat, said he is worried that illegal aliens will take slots at public colleges from legal residents. “Given the limitations on access by taxpayers, it’s a concern as to whether it’s the right policy at this point in time,” Moore said. “Are we going to add faculty? Are we going to add rooms?”  Moore also criticized Patrick for adopting the policy unilaterally rather than seeking the Legislature’s approval. "I don’t think he’s laid out the case for it yet,” Moore said. 

The Patrick Administration claims the change, which takes effect immediately, reflects its interpretation of whether illegal aliens can get resident tuition under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. An Administration spokesperson said immigrants with federal work permits have been allowed to pay resident tuition since 2008. But, by definition, an immigrant is legally present in the United States so Patrick is extending licenses to those without legal status.

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Updated: Fri, Nov 23rd 2012 @ 8:01am EST