The Attorney General of Virginia, Mark Herring, has issued an opinion that Virginia state colleges and universities may accept one group of illegal-alien resident students in their institutions and let them pay at in-state tuition rates.
The subject of the opinion is the set of aliens who have secured temporary legal status through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the Obama administration's amnesty-by-fiat. DACAs are supposed to have arrived illegally in the States prior to their 16th birthday.
Let me suggest that the proper response to this announcement is a yawn. This is not news.
I live in Virginia, know some of its elected officials and have paid attention to this issue in the past. I've learned that the state universities have been doing – routinely, for years, under both Democratic and Republican administrations – what Herring said that they can do, except that they've been doing it for all illegals, not just those who have gone through the DACA process.
A member of the Virginia House of Delegates told me about four years ago that admissions officials simply do not ask questions about the legal status of resident college applicants. (They do know a foreign student on an F-1 visa when they see one, but that is a different matter.)
I talked at the time to a couple of members of the state Senate, chatted with admissions officials at the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech, and looked at the admissions-screening documents. Everything confirmed what the delegate had told me. It was all very informal, without laws or published regulations, but the practice was not to ask. As a result a (probably small) number of illegal aliens were admitted to colleges as residents, and paid at in-state rates. Herring has simply made a ruling that no one asked for, one that is merely advisory, and got some headlines thereby.
This is, of course, bad public policy. It, in a small way, encourages illegal immigration among the young. And it denies college admissions to a small number of citizens or lawful permanent residents, the innocent victims of the policy.
It should stop, but it is not new.