Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates and our coalition partners are gravely disappointed in the passage of anti-immigrant, anti-student SB 224, which closes the A+ Scholarship program to Missouri students who are not U.S. citizens or green card holders. As a result of today’s veto override, hundreds of lawfully present immigrant students around the state of Missouri will be denied a scholarship they have earned, and they will be denied solely because they are immigrants and refugees.
Students who qualify for the A+ Scholarship must meet strenuous qualifications, including excelling in coursework, volunteering to tutor younger students, and maintaining excellent attendance and discipline records. As a result of SB 224, many students who have graduated from Missouri public high schools who have met all of these requirements will be discriminated against. Individuals who will be disqualified include lawfully present immigrants and refugees, including asylum seekers and children of parents with visas.
In addition to enduring the injustices of the passage of SB 224, Missouri’s immigrant students are also contending with anti-immigrant instructions in HB 3, the appropriations bill for the Department of Higher Education. That bill instructs colleges and universities to charge students who have been granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals relief (DACA) out-of-state or international tuition rates as well as revoking their institutional scholarships. While this language is non-binding, it is being widely implemented by schools around the state, resulting in Missouri students being charged double or triple tuition while losing access to any institutional scholarship.
“MIRA and our coalition partners are organized, and will not stop our fight against this anti-immigrant, anti-student agenda,” said Vanessa Crawford Aragón, Executive Director of MIRA. “We are working with students, their families, and allies around the state to make college accessible to all Missouri students, regardless of their immigration status. Legislators should be working to make our state a welcoming place where all residents have the ability to succeed. We look forward to addressing the larger tuition issue in the coming session.”
Karissa Anderson, Policy Manager for the Scholarship Foundation of St Louis said, “We are deeply disappointed in the legislature’s decision, but we will continue to work until higher education is accessible and affordable for all.”
Yara Puente, student leader from the Kansas-Missouri DREAM Alliance, remarked “As a result of these discriminatory policies, students like me are being discouraged from getting an education, or being forced to leave Missouri to go to college. We will continue to pursue equal access to education, as well standing against any other anti-immigrant measures.”