ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WUSA9) -- Doors are opening for immigrant children in Virginia.
Attorney General Mark Herring today announced his legal decision that state law allows immigrant students who have been approved as lawfully present under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program qualify for in-state tuition at Virginia's state colleges and universities.
The announcement was made at Northern Virginia Community College's Alexandria campus. About a dozen high school 12th graders from Arlington County were in the audience wearing "Dreamer" t-shirts.
Enkhjin Tuvshinzaya was one of them.
She immigrated as a small child from Mongolia and has earned straight A's since 5th grade. She is Washington and Lee's valedictorian and headed to James Madison University on a full scholarship, but it still "overjoyed" that she qualifies as an in-state student.
Other students who had planned to go to NOVA because of the cost of Universities are now thinking they may change their plans.
Several current NOVA students said they have been paying the out-of-state rates which are three times in-state tuition. Now, with the lower costs, they will be able to take more courses and finish the two-year program earlier.
Herring's announcement did what many democrats in the legislature have been trying to do for years. The Republican-leadership has continuously found ways to kills the legislation.
The President of The Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Michel Zajur said he did not expect any push back from the decision. "Most people realize the need to have education available to people and to allow our young people to be able to further their education."
Northern Virginia Community College President Bob Templin says 8,500 NOVA students are first generation immigrants. He said "It is a signal to all New Americans who live in Virginia that our state recognize the importance of developing their talent for the benefit of all of Virginia."
Dr. Mirta Martin, Ph.D, Dean and Professor of Management at Virginia State University, is a first generation American. She fled Cuba as a child. She reflected on Herring's announcement, considering America's growing Hispanic population which is on track to become a minority majority, and said, "If we do not provide education opportunities to young people now, in the future, we will have a leadership void and we'll have no one to blame but ourselves."