A bill that began in the Colorado House of Representatives to
ban in-state tuition for illegal immigrants was amended to serve
the opposite agenda.
Sen. John Andrews, the bill sponsor, said that while in-state
tuition is not traditionally given to illegal immigrants at
Colorado institutions, the bill’s original purpose was to make the
current policies enforceable by law.
“It is very important that laws of the state of Colorado are
upheld and reaffirm the laws of the United States to secure our
borders,” said Andrews, R-Arapahoe. “We want to make sure that
heavily subsidized higher education is reserved to the people that
are in this country legally.”
The bill originally stated that illegal immigrants would not be
able to receive in-state tuition at public higher education
institutions in Colorado.
Rep. Ted Harvey wrote the legislation to make current Colorado
Commission on Higher Education policies enforceable by law.
“Last year it came to our attention that several schools might
not be following the CCHE policies, so I want to codify the state
statue,” said Harvey, R-Douglas County.
In the Senate, the bill was amended to a weaker form by an
addition that stated illegal immigrants who have attended a public
or private high school for three years immediately preceding their
graduation can receive in-state tuition.
The addition has left people who were once supportive of the
bill now strongly opposed.
Brad Jones, the chairman of College Republicans and a senior at
the University of Colorado-Boulder, testified in favor of the
bill’s original form but threatens to sue the state of Colorado if
the legislation passes with the Senate’s amendment.
“If Colorado extends any of its in-state tuition benefits it
must extend the same benefits to all citizens,” said Jones, who is
from Arlington, Va., and consequently pays out-of-state
Jones cited a federal law, which states that if in-state tuition
is unlawfully granted to one student, it must be open to all
Andrews said a loss of out-of-state tuition would cost
universities about $227 million in lost revenues during the first
“Given that this bill passes, it will be a real issue for the
university,” Jones said. “I do have legal representation and this
is not an empty threat. I will take action and go forward with
Despite controversy over the new amendment, it may be the only
chance for some students to receive a college education.
After living in Colorado for five years, Raquel Burmudez wants
to go to college and become an obstetric nurse.
“I will be the first person in my family to finish college, to
go to school,” said Bermudez, a 16-year-old junior at Poudre High
School. “I don’t really think it’s fair to try and ban in-state
tuition. We come here to get a better education and a better life
and they should let us keep going.”
Rafael Galvan, a sophomore at Poudre High School, has been in
the United States for 12 years and said it is not fair to pass laws
that work against hardworking students.
“It’s not fair; if you went through high school and got good
grades you deserve a chance,” said the 16-year-old Galvan.
Guadalupe Salazar, director of El Centro, agreed.
“The students work really hard and do well in academics, they
are leaders in their communities and in school, and they should be
able to have the opportunity to attend college just like everyone
else,” Salazar said.
While illegal immigrant students are hopeful for the higher
education opportunities offered by the bill’s amendment, Harvey
said he would rather his legislation die than pass with the
“I will reject that amendment and request that it go to
conference committee to return the bill to its original form,”
Harvey said. “This amendment has ruined it.”