Because it's just the two of them, they don't make much money,
and definitely not enough to send Angel to college since
House Bill 1402 passed in 2011.
requires students like Angel who are living in the country
without legal permission to pay out-of state tuition.
Before the bill, tuition at Indiana University Kokomo was
manageable at $198 per credit hour.
``It was just enough money that me and my dad could work
together and pay as we went,'' Ramos told the Kokomo Tribune (http://bit.ly/1419UH9
). ``It would be hard, but we would be able to do it. He would
work, and I would study and help him out.''
He got as far as attending orientation and signing up for
classes to study fine arts at the local college before the bill
passed and reality hit him like a smack in the face.
``I started getting really excited. But, one night I came home,
turned on the news, and there were these kids my age at the
Statehouse, protesting a new bill signed by Republican Gov.
Mitch Daniels,'' he said. ``Later on I found out that that law
prevented me from getting in-state tuition.''
Now Angel would have to pay IU Kokomo's out-of state rate of
$563 per credit hour if he wanted to attend school.
``When I went up to my dad and talked to him, he just looked at
me and said, `We can't afford that,''' Ramos said.
He was devastated.
He feels just as US-American as anyone who was born in the U.S.,
he said, and he doesn't understand why he should be forced to
pay out-of state tuition in a state where he has lived the
majority of his life.
``I wasn't born here, but I was raised here,'' he said. ``I went
to American schools, went on field trips, had American friends,
watched American movies, and I stood up every morning at school
and said the Pledge of Allegiance.''
For students like Ramos, HB 1402 made college two to
three times more expensive and much harder to pay for,
especially since such students also are ineligible for state or
federal financial aid.
When the bill went into effect July 1, 2011, students had two
options: pay out-of state tuition or drop out and wait for
Congress to pass immigration reform or apply for Obama's
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals work permit policy.
Currently, 26 of Ivy Tech Kokomo's 5,302 students self-report
they are non-citizens, though the school doesn't know how many
of them are here without legal permission, said Steve Whikehart,
Ivy Tech Kokomo interim admissions director.
He said some of the 26 students could be international students,
which Whikehart estimates at about four a year, or refugees, or
students with various types of visas.
Because Ivy Tech is an open admissions campus, administrators
are not required to document why someone is considered a
All of these students are charged the out-of-state tuition of
$250 per credit hour, although the law doesn't require the
schools to verify a student's legal status.
Without the manpower or resources to verify legal residency, the
school relies on receiving viable information that a student
``If we had definite proof from an accredited agency, that's the
only time we're going to take something like that into an
investigative state,'' Whikehart said.
Because of this, it's still possible that some students who are
here without legal permission are receiving in-state tuition, he
Currently, two such students are known to attend Indiana
``It's a significantly big issue for the two students, but not a
huge impact across the campus in IU Kokomo,'' said IUK Vice
Chancellor Todd Gambill.
He said the two students were attending when HB 1402 was passed,
and qualify for SB 207, a bill passed in the last session that
allows such students who were enrolled on July 1, 2011, or
before to continue paying in-state rates.
Gambill said he's unsure how IU Kokomo verifies a student's
``I don't know what we would do if somebody lied, because we
haven't had to deal with that,'' Gambill said.
Mark Land, associate vice president of public affairs and
government relations at Indiana University Bloomington, said IU
and its regional campuses do not ``chase down'' students to
verify their legal residency.
When students first log into One Start, IU's online portal,
after receiving acceptance to any IU campus, they're required to
sign an electronic affidavit stating they're a legal U.S.
citizen, but no one has ever been caught lying, Land said.
``We don't have the resources to verify everyone. We take
people's responses to be the truth,'' Land said. ``We're clearly
stating that we expect people to tell the truth on these things.
If they lie, I guess we can pursue them legally for lying on a
legal document, but we are not actively policing it. We're
expecting people to do the right thing here.''
IU began requiring students sign the affidavit after the
Legislature passed HB 1402. Before then, IU and its regional
campuses didn't really care about a person's legal status, Land
``Our position all along is, these kids have been here most of
their lives, have done the right things, and they're being
caught up in something that is not their making,'' Land said.
``Our concern is if you have the academic qualifications to get
into IU. We're following this law because we have to, but legal
residency didn't matter to us before.''
Land said the university system never supported HB 1402, but was
pleased when SB 207 passed this year, allowing the students who
were enrolled on or before July 1, 2011, to return to school and
pay in-state tuition rates.
``This year we were pleased to see these students grandfathered
in,'' Land said. ``It seemed a little unfair that in the middle
of a college experience, to (raise) the tuition rate on these
students when they already started. There was a fairness issue
there we thought.''
Howard County has strong support for banning in-state tuition
for students here without documentation in state Rep. Mike
Karickhoff, who covers Kokomo and portions of Howard and Grant
counties, and in state Rep. Eric Turner, who has a portion of
eastern Howard County in his district. Both are Republicans.
They co-authored the original HB 1402.
``They're in our country illegally. Those seats could be
occupied by students who grew up here and want to go to
college,'' Karickhoff said. Two years later, however, both
representatives voted for SB 207.
``There wasn't a pathway to citizenship (when HB 1402 was
passed),'' Karickhoff said, referring to the Deferred Action
for Childhood Arrivals policy, which allows those who
entered the country without documentation as children to remain
in the U.S. and work without fear of deportation for at least
``Without an education, they're not going to be able to support
themselves, which is why I voted for 207,'' he said.
But, he said, he won't support all students without legal
documentation in Indiana receiving in-state tuition until the
federal government creates a pathway to citizenship for them.
``To throw away and disregard the fact that they're in our
country illegally, and that their parents are in our country
illegally and educating them, I don't see people in Indiana
doing that without a pathway to citizenship,'' he said.
He said he believes the 2011 bill led the way for other states
to take action that the federal government wouldn't.
``I think (Indiana), along with other states that passed
comparable legislation, helped focus our federal government on a
problem that's out there that needs to be addressed,'' he said.
``It's a federal problem, but because our federal government
isn't addressing it, you can see state legislatures doing it.''
Only two other states, Arizona and Georgia, bar
students without legal documentation from receiving in-state
tuition rates. Colorado passed a similar law in 2008, but
repealed it in 2013.
``I think it's good that we're on the forefront,'' Karickhoff
said. ``Why wouldn't you want to be on the forefront?''
For those who don't have a work permit from the federal
government or can't pay Indiana's out-of state tuition rates,
Karickhoff suggested they ``apply pressure'' to members of
Congress to develop a citizenship pathway.
``If their parents put the same emphasis on their citizenship as
their education, they might be citizens,'' he said. ``I would
encourage the children of undocumented aliens, or undocumented
aliens themselves, to spend as much energy gaining legal status
as they spend on their job and their work. I'm trying to be
compassionate here. I'm trying to be a thoughtful person.''
He said he doesn't think authoring HB 1402 has hurt his
constituents, and in fact, he doesn't believe there are many
students without legal documentation present in Howard County.
``Howard County, District 30, we don't have any. We don't. It's
a non-issue here,'' he said. ``(1402) opens up opportunity for
people who live in our state. There are still going to be
students occupying those seats. They're just going to be legal
With the passing of Senate Bill 207, authored by state Sen. Jean
Leising, whose district covers parts of Henry, Rush, Fayette,
Franklin, Ripley, Decatur and Shelby counties, and state Sen.
Carlin Yoder, whose district includes parts of Elkhart and
Kosciusko counties, came a new chance for a few of these young
Gov. Mike Pence signed the bill into law May 7, and it went into
effect July 1. Now, students without legal documentation who
were enrolled on or before July 1, 2011, can go back to school
and pay in-state tuition.
This includes Erick Gama, 22, of Indianapolis, who moved to the
United States from Mexico when he was 10.
``It's a good thing, although I was kind of shocked (HB 1402)
didn't grandfather us from the beginning,'' he said. "I'm glad,
because it's going to be my last semester, and I'll be able to
pay in-state tuition instead of out-of state, which is about
$6,000 for two classes.''
When HB 1402 passed, Gama had just completed his sophomore year
studying design at IU Bloomington. Because he doesn't have legal
documentation, he was forced to start paying out-of-state
He became a part-time student to lessen the load of his
increasing tuition costs and received financial help from family
to cover the bills.
``I took the classes that I needed the most, my major classes,
and then started taking three classes a semester,'' he said. ``I
took Ivy Tech classes online to try to keep up with the credit
hours and transferred them to IU. I should have graduated in
May, but I'm graduating this December.''
He wishes he was getting a refund for the out-of state tuition
he paid, and believes it might have been better for him to stop
going to college if he had known SB 207 would pass.
``It was a mean-spirited bill because it just completely removed
undocumented immigrants from attending higher education,'' Gama
said. ``It's already hard enough with financial aid because we
can't apply for federal or state aid, and have to find private
Leising said she authored the bill because HB 1402 didn't
grandfather in students who were already enrolled in school.
``I think that, truthfully, they should have figured out how
those kids could have been exempt,'' Leising said. ``A lot of
times when legislation passes, it doesn't impact people that are
in a process. They're grandfathered. I think that's one of the
reasons I was able to get the bill passed. It wasn't fair to
those who invested years of their lives already and wouldn't be
able to finish.''
She said she doesn't think the Indiana Legislature will support
a bill that gives in-state tuition to all students who are here
without legal permission because of the ``brokenness'' of the
federal government's immigration laws.
``Right now, I don't think that the Legislature would
collectively support a bill that would take care of all
undocumented college students,'' Leising said. ``I don't think
they are willing to make that commitment without the federal
government changing policy, because right now, I don't think the
Legislature has any confidence that the border has been secured
and that would potentially be a problem.''
She said some legislators wanted to amend her bill to expand
in-state tuition to all students, but it wouldn't have had
enough support to pass.
``It just seems to me that if we have a young person who had
done well in school, graduated from a public high school and
wanted to continue their education so they can be productive
members of society, we should let them finish their education,''
She estimated the law will only help about 300 students.
Lalita Haran, an immigration attorney based out of Kokomo and
Carmel, said it's difficult, if not impossible, for students
here without legal permission to gain citizenship.
``They don't actually have a way to legalize,'' Haran said.
``Immigration laws do not provide them much opportunity to
She said Obama's executive order allowing people brought here as
children to gain work permits and not be deported is only a
``There are many conditions to it, and many do not quality,''
Haran said. ``It doesn't provide legal status either. It just
relieves them from deportation for a two-year period, which can
She, too, said the federal government needs to reform
``It would be nice to be a nation of immigrants with amazing
intellectual capacity and keep growing, and not sending them to
other countries because of outdated immigration laws,'' Haran
Ramos just hopes he gets the work permit he and half a million
others applied for through Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood
Maybe then he can get a get a regular job to save up money to go
It's a waiting game for Ramos, as he applied for the permit in
Currently, an immigration reform bill is being debated in the
House, which if passed by both houses, will lead to citizenship
for more than 11 million people, including those brought to the
U.S. as children.
Ramos said he wouldn't know how to survive if he had to go back
``I don't belong there,'' he said. ``This is my home.''
Information from: Kokomo Tribune,