OCTOBER 16, 2009
Months after the Colorado Legislature rejected a measure to grant illegal immigrants discounted tuition at public colleges and universities, Democrats continue working on a soon-to-be-introduced bill to make it happen.
In April Colorado lawmakers killed—for the fourth time—a proposal that would have allowed illegal aliens to pay lower in-state tuition at the state’s 30 public colleges and universities. It was a contentious plan that was debated on the Senate floor for more than three hours before lawmakers, including several Democrats, finally defeated it.
This week a group of Colorado Democrats reveal they’ve been ardently working behind the scenes to tweak the defeated law so that it passes. Their plan centers on the creation of a special tuition category for illegal immigrants that attempts to disguise the taxpayer-financed perk granted to the state’s legal residents.
Since illegal immigrants don’t qualify for the subsidy given to the children of parents who pay state taxes, tens of millions of dollars will be allocated for the new illegal alien tuition class. That way, the law’s sponsors say, illegal immigrants don’t have to pay the much higher out-of-state fees. Either way it’s presented, the money comes from U.S. taxpayers.
One of the law’s sponsors, Senator Paula Sandoval, says the third tuition rate is a compromise that will avoid the pitfalls of four previous failed attempts at passing legislation. The House sponsor, Denver Representative Joe Miklosi, says the measure will “empower” the state’s undocumented high school graduates.
Ten states—including California, Texas, Utah, Kansas, Washington and New York—have laws granting illegal immigrants discounted college tuition and a few—Georgia, Oklahoma and Arizona—have recently created policies banning the perk. The practice was successfully challenged by a group of out-of-state students in California who argued that the state’s college system violated the law by charging them higher tuition and fees than undocumented immigrants. A California appellate court ruled in favor of the American students and the case is pending before the sate Supreme Court.
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