May 09, 2013 09:29 AM EDT
Colorado to Allow Undocumented Students to Pay In-State Tuition Rates
A historic moment unfolded at the state of Colorado, April 29, when Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 33, or ASSET bill into law, allowing illegal immigrant students to pay significantly less in tuition at Colorado colleges.
"Every kid matters," Hickenlooper said. "We need every child that we can get to be as educated as they are capable. Part of it is just the symbolic aspect in how kids believe that their education matters and that they're gonna get the same chances as other kids they grew up with, all along.
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Colorado now becomes the fourteenth state, including California, Utah and Connecticut to allow immigrants who graduate from state high schools to attend colleges at in-state tuition rates. Oregon is the latest state to have signed the proposal into law, last month, while Texas was the first state to implement such a policy, June 2001.
Metropolitan State University of Denver played host to the ceremony, which also saw Val Vigil in attendance, a former lawmaker who first introduced the bill in 2003, in the general assembly.
"It feels I did something, like I accomplished something. I always did it for the kids. But now that it's done, it makes me feel great. It makes me feel wonderful," said Vigil. Currently, he is a councilman and mayor pro tem for the city of Thornton.
In order to qualify for the in-state tuition, a student must be a graduate of a Colorado high school or should have obtained a general education diploma. Plus, he/she must also sign an affidavit committing to secure a legal immigration status in the country.
Previously, out-of-state immigrants in Colorado were asked to pay three times higher than the in-state rate.
In the past 10 years, the ASSET bill failed to get a majority vote from the legislature six times, including last year. Proponents allege that the ASSET bill would benefit Colorado, as the students would be eventually contributing to the state's economy.
Most of the democrats consensually supported the bill along with a handful of Republicans.
The majority of Republican lawmakers are still opposed to the measure arguing that the overall immigration system is flawed and needs to be amended.
They feel that the bill is giving them false hope since the unauthorised immigrants will find it difficult to seek employment after their graduation.