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Posted on Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 3:02 p.m.

Washtenaw Community College to consider reduced tuition for some unauthorized immigrants

By Kellie Woodhouse


Washtenaw Community College's commencement ceremony for the class of 2013 held at the Convocation Center Saturday, May 18.

Courtney Sacco I

The Washtenaw Community College Board of Trustees will consider amending the school's residency requirements to allow individuals who qualify for the federal government's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to receive reduced tuition rates.

The policy will allow otherwise unauthorized immigrants who moved to the U.S. prior to turning 16 and who meet certain federal requirements to receive in-district and out-of-district rates at WCC, as opposed to out-of-country rates such students currently pay.

Such students still must prove residence in Washtenaw County or in Michigan.


Members from the Washtenaw Community College Board of Trustees and president during Tuesday, May 14, meeting.

Daniel Brenner I

Administrators proposed the change to the seven-member board in June and the proposal had enough support to be brought back to the board for a formal vote Tuesday, July 23 during a 6 p.m. meeting at the Morris Lawrence Building on WCC's campus.

Tuition rates for Washtenaw County students are $96 per credit. Students living in other counties in Michigan pay $149 a credit hour and students from another state or country pay $194.

“We were hoping for a more inclusive policy, but this is a step in the right direction,” said Laura Sanders, a co-founder of the Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights who has lobbied for a change in WCC's residency requirements. “It leaves out a lot of undocumented students because not everybody meets those tight requirements for DACA status.”

Sanders said undocumented students and supporters plan to attend Tuesday’s meeting to show support for the change.

Administrators are also proposing a change that makes it easier for military, veterans and their dependents to receive in-district tuition: waiving a requirement that they reside in Michigan for six months before receiving reduced tuition.

Trustee Richard Landau said he plans to vote in favor of the residency change. He said when first discussed by trustees in June the change had support from the majority of trustees.

Linda Blakey, WCC vice president for student and academic services, says the school already enrolls a small amount of unauthorized immigrants, although she said she didn't know the exact number. "I don't know if we'll get more students who come forward now what we {are putting} this in place," she said.

She said the school first considered changing its policies after receiving requests from the public, including individuals on DACA status, and after Board of Trustees Vice Chair Patrick McLean asked administrators to consider changing residency requirements.

Federal requirements for granting an individual DACA status include:

  • Under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012
  • Came to the U.S. before reaching 16th birthday
  • Have continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007, up to the present time
  • Were physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making a request for DACA status
  • Entered the U.S. without inspection before June 15, 2012, or had lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;
  • Currently in school, has graduated, obtained a certificate of completion from high school, a GED, or is an honorably discharged veteran.
  • Has not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors

DACA status defers deportation for qualifying individuals for up to four years and provides them with a social security number, but does not provide them lawful status in the U.S. Individuals with DACA status can apply for permanent residency.

Tuesday's vote at WCC comes on the heels of University of Michigan's Board of Regents approving in-state tuition rates for all unauthorized immigrants who attended Michigan middle and high school. Regents voted 6-2 to approve that measure on Thursday. They also approved in-state tuition rates for all military and veterans.

The U-M residency change is more broad than the proposed WCC change, which applies to only those unauthorized immigrants who have been granted DACA status.

“Schools have been doing this differently. Rather than say ‘Oh any student that’s here with no paperwork, you can come in,' we weren’t comfortable that,” Blakey said. “We wanted the student to have the DACA status where they’ve done their due diligence in demonstrating that they’re meeting the criteria.”

Also, the U-M vote was a partisan one, with six Democrats voting for the change and two Republicans voting against it. WCC Trustees are non-partisan, meaning they do not identify a party when running for office.

Read the action item before trustees: WCC residency requirement changes.pdf

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 12:07 p.m.

When does the statue of bin Laden and Che get errected in the center of campus?

Roger Kuhlman

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 2:01 p.m.

Kellie the title of your piece contains a major error in it. WCC is considering reduced tuition for illegal immigrants or illegal aliens. Calling them unauthorized immigrants is sheer nonsense and a clear attempt to excuse or ignore their lawbreaking.

Tex Treeder

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 3:49 p.m.

I disagree, sayzme. The naming of things is exceptionally powerful, a sort of spinning of the basis of the argument from the very start. Think of the abortion debate: it's pro-life vs pro-choice, not anti-choice vs anti-life. Calling these people unauthorized immigrants ignores their US legal standing as 1) aliens (i.e. non-citizens) and 2) illegal aliens (i.e. non-citizens in the country illegally). They are not immigrants to begin with.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 2:41 p.m.

Sheer nonsense is getting hung up on nomenclature.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 1:51 p.m.

Perhaps the worst part of these peoles plans are they are almost always using other peoples moneys to further their adgenda. Don't even have the courage of their convictions to use their own money.

Tex Treeder

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 1:38 p.m.

We have lost control of our borders and now criminals like illegal aliens are accorded rights and benefits denied to US citizens. Lewis Carroll couldn't have done better. Surely we are living in Wonderland. From wikipedia: In U.S. law, an alien is "any person not a citizen or national of the United States." The U.S. Government's use of alien dates back to 1798, when it was used in the Alien and Sedition Acts. U.S. law makes a clear distinction between aliens and immigrants by defining immigrants as a subset of aliens. Although U.S. law provides no overarching explicit definition of the term "illegal alien," the term is used in many statutes and elsewhere (e.g., court cases, executive orders). U.S. law also uses the term "unauthorized alien."

Elijah Shalis

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 1:36 p.m.

I disagree with this policy. I agreed with giving high performing students full ride scholarships that are DREAMERS. However giving in district tuition rates to illegal immigrants that are not deserving of them from an academic performance standpoint is wrong.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 1:09 p.m.

It was not that long ago WCC was asking me for money, both my daughter and I are WCC Graduates. Kellie could you list all current U of M and WCC Trustees so I can make sure not to vote for any of them ever again.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 2 a.m.

To members of our military: Thank you for your service. In the eyes of U/M and WCC, for your dedication and sacrifices, you have earned to be viewed in the same esteem as undocumented immigrants. Shameful.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 1:33 a.m.

Obama's number two choice for Homeland Security - Alejandro Mayorkas, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services - is being investigated by Homeland Security's Inspector General for helping Hillary Clinton's brother and his company obtain an investor visa for a Chinese Executive who was already denied entry. Foreign Investors can put down $500k - $1million on a US project to secure a two year visa allowing them to further apply for and acquire U.S.A. citizenship. U.S. Citizenship - $500k U.S. Education - priceless

Ypsi Russell

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 1:12 a.m.

Only in America


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 1:09 a.m.

This is a surprise? This is, after all, the same board that extended the president's contract and gave her a hefty raise despite serious problems with her leadership that led to a faculty revolt.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 12:42 a.m.

So by this twisted logic, L.O.L. If my parents steal something and give it to me I have done nothing wrong and should get to keep it. Their parents obtained the opportunity for them to be here illegally. So the opportunity they now have should not be taken away because they were kids. Suppose my parents stole lets say $30,000 and put it in an account in my name I should get to keep it because I am just a kid?


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 3:07 a.m.

Maybe I should not be sent to jail, But I sure as well should not be able to benefit from their illegal activity!


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 12:49 a.m.

Or should you be punished for what your parents stole?


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 12:34 a.m.

students from another state or country pay $194. So someone from Egypt pays the same as someone from Indiana? Makes perfect sense. NOT!


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 12:24 a.m.

Agreed! Illegal Aliens.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 12:23 a.m.

Why not? Just give Texas back while were at it!


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 12:50 p.m.

I concur, please Texas, just secede already. Preacher Perry keeps the southern flame burning by flirting with that idea.

Jaime Magiera

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 4:58 a.m.

Can we? That would be great.


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 11:24 p.m.

Yep, break the law, get a gold star. Nothing like positive reinforcement.


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 11:11 p.m.

Illegal Aliens.


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 10:46 p.m.

An educated society benefits everyone. The alternative for these kids who are taking the steps toward citizenship is that they will be stuck in dead-end jobs. I sometimes wonder if that's the plan...


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 12:41 a.m.

The plan was for all newcomers to document their past including the past of their friends and family and especially their former law-breaking employers. Once that is done, then find out who forgot to pay their taxes since the last amnesty. The government plan was to have even more money to give away to their multi-national PAC buddies. Increase an otherwise shrinking labor pool and credit bounded consumer population. And dilute the wage base so that inflation remains low, profits high, and voters d'empowered, The new plan is globalization retreat and rethink. The golden China pot popped. It's deportation now. No more dead-end jobs.


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 10:15 p.m.

Really do not care if you call then "undocumented children", Illegal aliens, extended visitors, Martians or anything else - rewarding those who break the laws of the United States is just plain nuts. Especially at the expense of those who were and are law abiding.


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 10:05 p.m.

New World Order Flunkies. So, the students must be o Under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012 o have lived continuously in US since 2007. Thus anyone under the age of 26 in 2007 (31 in 2012) could have been border jumping for 8 years as a responsible adult knowingly breaking US law and is still absolved as long as they were here at least once before turning sixteen. Legally, illegally, temporarily, only two feet within the border until being turned back before the age of 16 ? So, any illegal alien who came to the US on a legal visa before turning sixteen from any country and then living here since 2007 is absolved ? WCC - your tax dollars at work providing a better future to the entire world - now all living here in Pure Michigan. The White House today blasted critics for separating out other family members in the "special kids" absolution. Apparently, Obama wants families who break the US law together, to stay here together. What do innocent children have to do with anything?


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 10 p.m.

Maybe we should rename WCC to UMJC. University of Michigan Junior College, and let all the people who chose to break the law for themselves or their kids profit off it.


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 9:47 p.m.

"Me too! Me too!" says the Board. "See U of M? We are just as good as you!"


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 9:44 p.m.

Is every town and county like this? I have GOT to get out of here. I feel like I'm taking crazy pills. Have you all looked at how much of your property tax goes to Washtenaw Community College? Unreal. Just completely dumb and irrational and ridiculous and insane.

Jaime Magiera

Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 12:03 a.m.

RUKiddingMe, if the person was brought here as a child, it's not their fault they are "illegal". What would you have them do? Hitchhike over the border to a completely new land, leaving everything they do and know? That's completely unrealistic. They are here and if we want to have an educated society we need to put education in the hands of everyone. Note that DACA only provides a 4-year delay for deportation. If they don't become citizens, they have to go - and by the nature of the process of becoming DACA, they are on record. Consider the number of undocumented immigrants in this country. Consider how much of our US economy functions on their hard labor. Consider how many complex problems we having facing us in terms of science, technology and environment. It's definitely worth banking on them.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 11:12 a.m.

How is that a mischaracterization? It's the very basic core of what is being proposed. You may be able to pay less if you're here illegally than someone else who is here legally, and the reason is that you're here illegally. Yeah, it puts education more in reach. So does just making it free for illegals. It mis-spends the taxes we all pay. There are people who are legally residents. It's not like no one's applying to WCC any more, and the illegal aliens are the only ones in line to apply, but they can't pay because of the out-of-county rates, but they COULD pay if it were in-county rates. That's not the situation. Your banking on the future income of these illegals is kind of preposterous, too. Assuming they DO bother to become citizens (after seeing there's no need to bother, since they get better handouts as illegals, case in point), a lot of illegal aliens send money straight to relatives overseas.

Jaime Magiera

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 5:26 a.m.

That's a mischaracterization of the situation. What this does is help put higher education within reach of those who were brought to this country at a young age, beyond their control. That access will improve their chances of building a solid foundation and contributing even more to our society.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 12:51 a.m.

Yeah, Jaime, my taxes go there for your basic human need, then people who are here illegally pay less than people here legally. And yeah, that IS weird. REAL weird. So weird, in fact, that I wish I had more of a say how the places that take my money spend it.


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 10:51 p.m.

So your taxes are supporting a legally bordered country to protect you from foreign threats and to provide you with a secure economic, law-and-order existance independent of other corrupted nations wealthy egomaniaces, and their failed systems? How rediculous. Mr. President, tear down those walls.

Jaime Magiera

Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 10:12 p.m.

So, a significant portion of property taxes goes to one of the most fundamental needs in human society? Weird.


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 9:17 p.m.

It would be interesting to see which trustees voted for and against this. It seems like illegal aliens, I mean unauthorized immigrants or undocumented students, are getting some pretty good perks nowadays. Does this mean tuition will increase so they can fund new books written in Spanish?

Jaime Magiera

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 4:50 a.m.

We wind up in chaos? What about Latin America? Or Germany? Or... All of these places have signs and documents in multiple languages and they do just fine. From a technological perspective, translations are actually quite easy between the more prominent languages in the world. Note also that international symbols are quite useful in signage and documentation. That aside, most of the immigrants here in Michigan learn enough English to function. Lastly, I wonder where immigrants would be able to learn English… hmmm… maybe… a school.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 3:36 a.m.

Jamie: Being able to speak multiple languages is a great thing. Almost every country in Europe requires courses in at least English and another language on top of their native language. At issue is the desire by immigrants, illegal and legal, that choose to not learn English and only speak in their native tongue. The fundamental language in this country is English and it should be the only language required on any government form or document. I have found it extremely disturbing to return to my home town in Southern California to find almost all signs in Spanish and many employees who can only speak Spanish despite working at jobs that require interaction with the public. Without a standard that everyone follows, we wind up in chaos. What if traffic signals were different based upon the primary spoken language of the local area? How would people function that visited or traversed the area? Until this country adopts English as its primary language, the political correctness idiots will force the bending over backwards to accommodate every person who doesn't want to learn English.

Angry Moderate

Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 9:51 p.m.

Do you really think that many people who been living in the U.S. since they were younger than 16, have lived here for at least 6 years, and have obtained a high school diploma, cannot read books in English?


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 9:50 p.m.

That is, assuming they bother to learn English...

Jaime Magiera

Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 9:24 p.m.

Being able to speak multiple languages increases brain white matter and helps fend off the onslaught of brain diseases such as Alzheimer's. Sounds like a good idea.

Jaime Magiera

Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 8:54 p.m.

I don't mind some of my tax dollars going to help children of undocumented immigrants get educated and contribute even more to our society. One of the requirements is that they were younger than 16 when brought here. That's reasonable. It's highly unlikely that the child could have made such a decision on their own. We don't hold children accountable for the crimes of their parents. It's not ethical or moral. Compassion is key here. Most who come to the U.S. stay here. Do we want them to stay here on the dole longterm, contributing in only the most menial of labor that doesn't require education or do we want to help these young folks reach their true potential, helping them be self-sufficient and contributors to solving the complex needs of our society? I'll opt for the latter. In the long run, it will take *less* of my tax dollars and contribute far more to the economy and the health of our society.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 11:02 p.m.

how will they get a good job after college if they aren't legal?


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 8:27 p.m.

Tax money should be for lawful, legal residents. Everyone else has to pay the amount set by residential status, no special treatment. Period. As someone who pays $400+ a year supporting WCC (property tax millage) this annoys me.

An Arborigine

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 2:41 a.m.

McKinley don't cut no slack!

Angry Moderate

Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 9:47 p.m.

Illegal immigrants also pay property taxes (or have them included in their rent).


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 8:18 p.m.

Is it possible to measure the arrogance it takes these people to give away state tax dollars? I wonder why/how it is even legal?

Airborne Soldier

Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 7:55 p.m.

simply amazing......... I try to do the right thing, and pay full rates and out of county rates... and .... simply unbelievable...


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 10:47 a.m.

I should add, though, that if the parents really have paid property taxes and have been productive, and if the kids have done well in school & behaved themselves, the argument against treating them like residents for purposes of classification is not so easy to sustain. Then it becomes a matter of whether the spots that they take in the classes should be taken by students who are not in violation of immigration law, just on principle. Also, we have to ask the question of whether non-citizen graduates of WCC can 'pay back' the differential in tuition--or any other benefits they may have received-- if they can't legally work in this country after getting their WCC training. The question is more complex than whether or not the students have 'done something wrong,' I think.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 10:40 a.m.

No, they haven't done anything wrong (apart from not applying for citizenship as soon as they were able to do so, but that's another matter). Neither have people who live in other counties. They just haven't earned a benefit that taxpayers in the county earn by putting money into the system for years. Out-of-state or out-of-county tuition isn't a punishment. It sounds as though you may be mischaracterizing it that way (perhaps without meaning to), Angry Moderate.

Angry Moderate

Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 9:46 p.m.

People who were brought here by the parents when they were children, through no control of their own, have not done anything "wrong."

Kellie Woodhouse

Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 7:32 p.m.

I just added a PDF of the action item that is before the BOT so you can read it yourself. It's at the bottom of the article.


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 7:20 p.m.

Once they are here, we all benefit by offering more access to education.


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 10:59 p.m.

Once they are back home, we will all benefit even more by offering more access to our education. Lesson 1. Take responsibility for your existance, and your children's existance, and clean up your geographic part of the world so that everyone might benefit there, too.


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 7:04 p.m.

Here we go again.