JANUARY 17, 2013
Colorado lawmakers are more determined than ever to pass legislation that will give illegal immigrants discounted tuition at all of the state’s public colleges and universities, essentially forcing taxpayers to subsidize their education.
Several attempts have failed over the years but a state newspaper reports that Democrats, emboldened that they control both chambers of the legislature, will push a bill through this year. Democrats hold a 37-28 majority in the House and a 20-15 majority in the Senate “What we’re looking at is a simpler, more equitable approach to tuition,” according to the state senator from Denver who is leading the effort to give illegal aliens discounted tuition.
On at least four occasions in the last few years the Colorado legislature has rejected measures to grant illegal immigrants cheaper tuition at all 30 of the state’s public institutions of higher learning. The perk is traditionally reserved for legal residents who graduate from state high schools, though a handful of states—including Texas, California, Utah, Washington and New York—extend the benefit to illegal immigrants.
Because the legislation has repeatedly failed to pass in Colorado, one of the state’s public universities— Metropolitan State College of Denver—took matters into its own hands and created a special category of tuition for illegal immigrants last summer. It allows illegal immigrants who graduated from state high schools to pay cheaper tuition at the school, which has an enrollment of about 24,000 and offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in a variety of fields.
Judicial Watch called on the school to immediately rescind the measure, which violates both federal law and Colorado law and constitutes a power beyond the board of trustees. Under federal law illegal immigrants are ineligible for state or local public benefits, including post-secondary education benefits unless a state enacts a measure affirmatively granting the perk. “In approving this new category of tuition, the College recognized that these students would otherwise be required to pay full non-resident tuition because of their inability to demonstrate lawful presence in the United States,” JW writes in a letter to the school’s Board of Trustees.
At least three states—Georgia, Oklahoma and Arizona—have solved the contentious issue by creating policies banning discounted tuition for illegal aliens at public colleges. One Colorado Republican opposed to the discount tuition law points out the irony in having taxpayers subsidize undocumented aliens’ college education since they can’t legally get a job in the U.S. It gives false hope, the lawmaker said.
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