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Heated Debate At State Capitol Over Tuition For Illegal Immigrants

DENVER (AP) — A heated debate at the state Capitol on Thursday over another attempt to give illegal immigrant students in-state tuition. This is the fifth time Colorado Democrats have pushed the proposal in the last decade.

Democrats say they’ve modified their proposal this year to make it more appealing to opponents, who argue illegal immigrants should not be getting state benefits.

“When the time came for me to go to college, I found it very difficult to find the money to pay for school and I realized how easy it is to just give up,” said Amita Menjivar, who pleaded the case of all undocumented students.

Senate Bill 126 would allow illegal immigrant students like Menjivar to pay the lower in-state tuition cost if they met certain criteria, such as attending a Colorado high school for at least three years and graduating from a state school. The bill was heard in committee Thursday Heated Debate At State Capitol Over Tuition For Illegal Immigrants

Supporters argue making it easier for illegal immigrant students to attend college will help Colorado’s economy in the long-term and boost colleges’ coffers because they’ll have more students enrolled.

Opponents of the legislation say providing in-state tuition to illegal immigrants will lead to higher operating costs at colleges and that it rewards illegal behavior.

“You can do it, give all benefits you want to illegal immigrants, but to be fair, you can’t discriminate against U.S. citizens and legal immigrants,” said University of Denver law professor Robert Hardaway.

California, Illinois and Texas are among 11 states that grant in-state tuition to illegal immigrants.

Previous attempts in Colorado have failed even when Democrats have controlled both chambers of the Legislature. Republicans, who have opposed the previous bills, now control the House, and Democrats still have a majority in the Senate.

The nonpartisan legislative council crunched the numbers on what it would mean for the state. It estimates 737 undocumented students will graduate from Colorado high schools this year and be eligible. The measure requires students to live in the state 3 years.

If roughly 25 percent of those students took advantage of the in-state tuition, it would mean an increase of about $1.7 million for Colorado colleges and universities in tuition they otherwise would not receive because those students wouldn’t go to college.

Because of the fiscal impact, the bill was referred to the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday.

Sen. Angela Giron, a first-year lawmaker from Pueblo, said her proposal this year is different from previous bills because it requires that students sign an affidavit with a college saying they are trying to obtain legal residency, a provision that other states have included in their legislation.

Giron’s bill is also different from past attempts because it makes illegal immigrant students ineligible for a state stipend that in-state tuition students can use at a college of their choice.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  • DenverVet

    I have nothing against illegals but hey, lets get our own kids educated first, set our priorities straight. If they are here illegally then I don’t understand how it would be legal to give them aid.

  • JR Wolfe

    Why give ILLEGAL immigrants rights ? IIts scary to me that our lawmakes don’t seem to grasp the definition of the word “illegal.”

    Potential students can get a “student visa” and do it legally. Immigraants can fill out the paper work to become a citizen. Its not that difficult.

    • Oldsailor65

      I agree with you. The more we do to accomodate illegals the more illegals we will have. We can not afford what illegals are costing this country plus the fact that we do no need more people in this country.

    • MITCH


  • A.A. Cunningham

    Illegal aliens all need to be deported and sent back to their countries of origin where they can then pay in state tuition, legitimately.

    Illegal aliens cost this state and its taxpayers $1.4 billion dollars in 2010. Were it not for that cost all those bleeding hearts in public education wouldn’t be crying about having their bloated budgets cut.

    Wake up people and stop enabling criminal behavior.

  • John C

    Common sense:

    Why give US dollars to illegals, who don’t pay state or federal taxes, and they still won’t with a degree?

    They have no intention of giving back to society, much less pay any hospital bills. They will run from an accident scene, regardless of who dies at the accident scene!!

    Why give illegal something for free, but tax the US citizens and permanent residents?

    The money is also needed by tax paying Colorado citizens!

    Let’s stop being so “caring” when the legitimate taxpayers are, themselves, trying to make ends meet.

  • Don

    Every time you FEW come up with something like this the real intent is to get votes. If you want to know what Americans have to say, put it to a state wide vote in November. Illegal is illegal.

  • RB

    I am a middle/high school teacher in Colorado. I have had the pleasure of working with and teaching some wonderful, talented and promising young individuals who now find themselves struggling with this situation. Most have been in our district since early elementary and are American in every way except their legality. I see a lot of “legal” students with less talent who are able to go on with their life, go to college, get a job, become a productive member of society. That is all these kids are asking for-a chance. I very much believe they deserve it!!! It is so easy to “close the door” that you were simply lucky enough to be born into.

    • H Valdez

      I have to say the comment of “simply lucky enough to be born into” kind of grated on me.
      Many of us had ancestors that immigrated legally to the United States. For example my great grandparents came here legally. My great grandparents and grandparents lived simply while their children received an education building thier house by hand and farming their land. My great grandfather even inspected vegstables and was exposed to many harsh chemicals. My grandfather served in Vietnam.
      My father served 25 years in the armed forces and my mother was an educator. We were not just “lucky enough to be born” here my family earned that right.
      It is not up to us to feel bad for people that were born into a crime ridden or impovered commounity. Their family knew the conditions of their country. They chose to have that child. We the citizens of the United States should not be held hostage by their choices because they dont like how things ended up.

  • Craig Tyacke

    TO R.E.B. If you really think so much of these kids why don’t you invite some to live under your roof?

    We tried this in the early 1980s, and this is what we got , as soon as their economy gets so bad their back over here asking for a hand out, but they didn’t apply to come over the correct way they sneak over in the dark like thieves.
    Their parents brought them here and some how are making enough money to feed them, and send money back to Mexico to help other family members, how is that?? O that’s right they only take jobs that Americans won’t, who are we kidding, just our selves. We are going to get what “we” deserve. WE vote these politians in and they have no idea what their votes do to this country, they don’t care what you and I think its what they think is best, after all they are above all other.

  • mudd

    It is sad that we are awarding illegals a reduced in-state tuition rate while our own citizens are struggling to get an education and/or job with no extra hand outs.

    Why not make a bylaw in addition to the one that is being talked about, to have this individual to do community service or join the Armed service and at the end of the agreed term they will have a SS card so they can be legal thus they have to pay thier fair share of taxes instead of using another SS illegally so they can qualify. If they have lived here for so many years they should know the ins and outs of the legal system to know what it takes to be a legal citizen here.

    Don’t provide Amesty, make them EARN IT and after the end of the terms they are legal citizens of the US and thus the Legal or Illegal question will be mute. You will have a citizen who shows his or her willingness to be a U.S citizen as well as making them legal make them obligated to pay back to the system thus one less freeloader out.

    This will make the Liberals happy with their bleeding guilty hearts and the Right wings happy as well since they will have to earn their keep.

    How hard is it for both parties to make a simple damn resolution? Do what is right! Don’t use party affiiliations as an excuse. Forget the party line or votes, They are here, wheither we like them or not, so let’s do something about it..

  • Number 6

    Giron’s bill makes illegals sign an affidavit attesting to doing their best to obtain legal status. What a bunch of garbage. An affidavit means nothing to an illegal. They’ll just look at it like a stolen SS number, phony driver’s license, etc. It’s just tool to game the system.

    Deport them all!

  • H Valdez

    No one wants to tell a child no they can not do something especially when it comes to education but lets be real.
    Being an illegal immigrant is just that; “illegal”. We impress a standard of behavior on children from their earliest days of development. You see somoene dealing drugs; say something. You see someone commit murder or rape; say something. You see someone stealing; say something. We hope that our children will live by this and uphold the law and help their fellow man.
    When you register your child for school if you are a US citizen you are required to provide your social security number. If an illigal immigrant registers, they are not.
    Educators, districtis and politicians accept state and federal funding for these illegal immigrants which in turn should be considered part of the illegal act as they are taking part in allowing a crime to continue.
    Lets try this……You know someone is here “illegally”; say something! We need to stop turning our own heads to a crime and hold ourselves to the same standard of behavior that we do our children.
    If we stop handing them everything on a silver platter from low income housing, free lunch programs, free after school or before school progras, education for the children that they bring here illegally they will think twice about jumping that border. We are making it too easy and comfortable to come to Colorado illegally,

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