February 14, 2007
By MARK SPENCER, Courant Staff Writer
A bill that would allow undocumented immigrants in Connecticut to pay in-state tuition to public colleges and universities received the endorsement of the state university chancellor, while drawing concerns from some legislators during a public hearing Tuesday.
In a packed room at the Capitol, Fernando Betancourt, executive director of the state Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission, told members of the higher education and employment advancement committee that paying out-of-state tuition, which is often triple the cost of in-state tuition, prevents many young people who were brought here illegally by their parents from attending college.
Making it possible for them to attend college, through lower tuition, is fair and benefits the state economy by providing skilled, educated workers, he said.
But Sen. Dan Debicella, R-Shelton, repeatedly questioned Betancourt on the potential cost of the proposal, saying the state should spend its limited resources on legal immigrants and citizens.
Betancourt responded that the bill did not subsidize undocumented immigrants because they would still pay tuition and probably would not go to college otherwise because they could not afford the higher price.
The Connecticut bill, which will not come to a vote until later in the legislative session, requires students to have attended two years of high school in state and to have graduated from an in-state school. To get in-state tuition, those students must file an affidavit stating they have applied for legal immigration status or will apply if they become eligible.
David Carter, chancellor of the four-campus, 36,000-student Connecticut State University system, endorsed the proposal in a statement read to the committee.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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