We are in an epic battle for the civil rights of all people. Undocumented youth have been especially victimized by an unfair immigration system. Yesterday, February 18th, 2011, free people won an initial victory in the Colorado Senate when a law allowing undocumented immigrants advanced out of committee. This law makes a lot of sense for everyone, as tuition revenue will increase to Colorado colleges and universities if this bill becomes law.
There is still much to do on the front of immigration reform. We need your support in making that a reality in Colorado!
This article was originally published as Colorado Advances In State Tuition For Undocumented Youths
As both sides of the immigration debate line up on the firing lines innocent lives lie between. Today, the Colorado Senate passed legislation which will give undocumented youth a chance. Senate Bill 126 will give children of undocumented immigrants in-state tuition rates, but nothing else.
While federal law requires all children attend school under the decision of Plyer V. Doe, after graduating from high school all bets are off. Immigrant youth who were brought to the US by their parents and have lived in Colorado nearly all of their lives are simply out of luck. Assuming Colorado colleges admit them at all, the youths must pay out-of-state tuition rates. They are not eligible for scholarships. That puts college out of reach of most children of undocumented youth. They are mostly from poor families who barely pay basic bills, must less can afford send their children to higher education at out-of-state tuition rates.
Such cold realities ensures poor people stay poor. Statistics show youth who are victims of poverty do well when sent to college. It is a chance to break the chain of poverty handed down from one generation to the next. Many youths who go to college work hard to pass the opportunity along to their own children, hence improving society. Sadly, for undocumented youth, such dreams remain the luxury for others.
Since most youth were not old enough to understand the gravity of crossing the border without inspection, they become victims of those who insist on denying the youth of undocumented immigrants opportunities as a way of getting even for the acts of the parents of the youth. The children of undocumented immigrants are the poorest of the poor, and then are left in a virtual state of hopelessness without the youths doing a single thing to deserve the treatment.
A prior effort to pass in-state tuition rates for undocumented youths failed in the Colorado legislature in 2009. The chief complaint was the children would compete with US citizen youths for scholarships and student loans. The proposal in front of the Colorado legislature prohibits use of state funding. In fact, as massive cuts in education were proposed by legislatures, the undocumented youths could be what is keeping college doors open. According to a press release from Colorado Asset, which supports the bill, when the state of Texas granted in-state tuition to undocumented youths, there was an increase in student paid tuition by over $27 million dollars the first year.
"This bill has always been the right thing to do, but now it is the economically smart thing to do.” said Sen. Angela Giron (D-Pueblo) who co-sponsored the bill with Sen. Mike Johnson (D-Denver). “We must ensure that Colorado's economy is built on the foundation of a talented, educated, innovative and diverse workforce."
This bill should not be confused with the Dream Act which was defeated in the US Senate during the lame duck session of 2010. The Dream Act would allow children of undocumented youth the chance to go to school or serve in the military. Those who obtained a degree or finished their service commitment could become permanent residents after a 10 year period, assuming they passed a back ground check and paid a healthy fine. Supporters hope the Dream Act will come up for another vote one day. Until it does, Colorado's effort is as good as it will probably get for undocumented students.