Rep. Stacey Campfield proposed a state law this year that would prohibit state schools from admitting illegal immigrants. It stands in stark contrast to a federal law, which seeks to let illegal immigrants enter public colleges and universities with the possibility of instate tuition.
The federal law, dubbed the Dream Act, is stalled in the U.S. Senate, while Campfield plans to move his bill to a House subcommittee.
About 65,000 illegal immigrants graduate from U.S. high schools each year, according to the Urban Institute, and 12 million are estimated to be living in the country.
Class space is very valuable, Campfield said on his blog. Students already have trouble getting into classes that fill up quickly, he said.
"I know at UTK they keep people from registering if they did not pay a parking ticket (A civil penalty in most cases)," he said on his Web site. "But coming into/being in the country illegally (a federal criminal act) and you can come right in and possibly get instate tuition."
Arizona has made similar proposals. Under the statute Proposition 300, illegal immigrants could not receive instate tuition at public colleges and universities in the state. It was approved with 71 percent of the vote and was passed along with three other measures denying illegal immigrants various rights.