San Diego Signal

Mayor Bill Wells Criticizes Bill that Would Give Mexico Residents In-State Tuition at California Schools

“It’s just a slippery slope that takes us in a bad direction,” El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells said.

A new education bill introduced on Jan. 5 by California Assemblymember David Alvarez proposes to exempt students living in Mexico from non-resident community college tuition fees in San Diego and Imperial Valley Counties. 

The bill, AB 91 seeks to amend the education code relating to colleges. “Existing law authorizes community college districts to admit nonresident students, and requires that nonresident students be charged a nonresident tuition fee unless an exemption applies.” 

The bill’s amendment would “exempt from the nonresident tuition fee a nonresident, low-income student who is a resident of Mexico, registers for lower division courses at a San Diego and Imperial Counties Community Colleges Association (SDICCCA) college, as defined, and has residence within 45 miles of the California-Mexico border.”

“I live in a border town. I’m the mayor of a border town. Twenty-seven percent of the people who live in my town are Hispanic and they’re asking me to make sure we have low crime and good parks and safe streets. They don’t want me to be giving in-state tuition to people that live in other countries, foreign nationals, whether they be from Mexico or Ireland. So people want us to be taking care of their kids and their community,’ Bill Wells, Mayor of El Cajon, said in a February 9 interview.

El Cajon sits just shy of 26 miles from the Mexican border, a marathon’s distance away.

The bill would require San Diego and Imperial Valley County Community Colleges Association to adopt rules to verify a student’s address, determine low-income qualification, establish mechanisms for appeal of residence classification and demand that governing boards approve the association’s rules. It also limits the number of exempted students under AB 91 to 200 students at every college.

Wells believes that taxpayers dollars would be better spent on a revamp of the community college system. 

“You know the reason we have a 20% decrease in our college community system I think, is really part of the market. The market says that the community college system really isn’t working for people, that they are looking for education that could help them get jobs, jobs like HVAC jobs and electrical jobs and we need to revamp that system,” Wells revealed in the interview. 

“We’re back kinda in the old system of making sure that the unions are taken care of, so we’re taking California state taxpayer money, we’re propping up the community college system and we’re making sure that the unions are taken care of so really in turn they care take care of Democrat politicians and it goes back and forth.”

Assemblymember David Alvarez, who sponsored the partisan bill, is Chair of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee of the California Latino Legislative Caucus. The Caucus has advocated for other education bills that promote free community college for all, and funding for dual language schools. They have also supported healthcare for all, prohibition of law enforcement agencies from notifying federal immigration authorities of inmate releases, and assisting in any immigration enforcement.

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