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Bill allowing some undocumented students to attend college passes Alabama House committee • Alabama Reflector

The Alabama House Education Policy Committee Wednesday approved legislation that would allow some undocumented students to attend public higher education in the state.

HB 210, sponsored by Rep. Reed Ingram, R-Pike Road, would allow undocumented students who have attended high school for three years and have a high school diploma, GED or equivalent and and have applied for legal status to attend one of Alabama’s post-secondary institutions.

“We hear a lot of them are going to other states to go to college,” Ingram said Wednesday.


Undocumented students are barred from attending public higher education in the state due to HB 56, the 2011 law that aimed to criminalize the lives of undocumented immigrants in the state. Federal courts later gutted much of the law, but the bar on higher education remained. 

The bill passed the committee on a voice vote.

Some Democrats on the committee had concerns about the language of the bill, which refers to “aliens” rather than immigrants.

“Would you be opposed to just amending it to say ‘immigrants.’ because that’s what they are, right?” said Rep. Barbara Drummond, D-Mobile.

Drummond said she regretted not raising questions about the language during the original debates over HB 56.

Ingram said he was not sure about how amending the bill would work.

“We can do that on the floor,” he said.

Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, the chair of the committee and a co-sponsor of the bill, said she thinks the original law is the source of the language.

According to a 2023 Chronicle of Higher Education article, Alabama, South Carolina and Georgia passed enrollment bans around immigrants during a wave of anti-immigration sentiment. Students had been able to enroll under DACA, but some students lost that ability during litigation.

Relatively few immigrants come to Alabama. According to the U.S. Census, only 3.8% of Alabama’s population is foreign-born, compared to 14% nationwide. 

The bill moves to the full House of Representatives. The bill needs four legislative days to pass; there are nine days left in the current session.

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