Supporters of the legislation, known as the Dream Act, say they want to give immigrants a fair chance to attend college. The bill would allow undocumented Minnesota high school graduates to pay an in-state tuition rate if they attended high school in the state for three years.
The bill is included in a package of DFL immigration proposals, which would provide tax credits for the cost of citizenship applications, create a commission on new Americans and push Congress to overhaul the U.S. immigration system.
Supporters of the Dream Act say it recognizes Minnesota's immigrant heritage, and would help the state's economy by helping more workers get educated.
Illegal immigrants would still have a harder time qualifying for in-state tuition rates than would residents of other states who live here for a year. Backers said they may toughen the bill - for example, by making eligible students show that their parents pay taxes.
Previous attempts to pass the Dream Act failed. Opponents say it would give preferential treatment to illegal immigrants, who could be eligible for benefits not available to legal residents of other states.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty lobbied against the Dream Act proposal last session and aired a campaign ad last fall that said, "We don't even give that to people from Iowa."
A sponsor of the Dream Act, Rep. Carlos Mariani, DFL-St. Paul, says he's not trying to pick a fight with the governor.
"We're looking for an opportunity to have a decent engagement with him and his office. We're looking for ways to make this happen," says Mariani. "If there are accommodations the governor wishes to propose, I think that's fair."
Gov. Pawlenty says he still doesn't support the Dream Act but is willing to listen to the DFL immigration proposals.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)