A DREAMer at UCLA graduation.
Fabiola Santiago, an undocumented UCLA student with a master's degree in public heath, attends a graduation ceremony for UCLA 'DREAMers' in 2012. Reuters

The Tampa Bay Times reported on Monday that Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a bill over the weekend which will allow undocumented students who are residents of the state to qualify for in-state tuition rates at public universities and colleges. Florida becomes one of 18 states to pass similar legislation on tuition for Dreamers, who will join other residents in paying one-fourth of what out-of-state students do. It also seeks to keep down tuition rates across the board, restricting increases to just two public schools -- the University of Florida and Florida State University -- which can raise tuition up to 6 percent per year without approval by the state legislature, according to Fox News.

Reuters notes that in the 2010 gubernatorial elections, Scott struck a hardline conservative stance on immigration, saying he would seek to replicate an earlier law in Arizona which required local police to check the immigration status of anyone arrested or detained if there exists “reasonable suspicion” that they’re in the country illegally. He also vetoed a bill in June which would have given Dreamers who received temporary protection from deportation and work authorization under the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to obtain driver’s licenses.

But finding himself trailing 47-35 in polls to gubernatorial challenger Charlie Crist, Scott has embarked upon an aggressive courting of Hispanics. The Miami Herald reports that in addition to two new Spanish-language ads on TV and another on radio running in heavily Hispanic Miami-Dade County, his new running mate, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, was a one-time property appraiser for the county. After signing the bill, Scott sought to frame the issue in purely economic terms, contrasting the bill’s contents to earlier Crist-era legislation allowing universities to raise tuition up to 15 percent per year. The Times writes that in an appearance on a Fort Myers news station, Scott said he’d come “to talk about legislation I signed this weekend to stop Charlie Crist's 15 percent annual tuition increases.”

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