Apr 052004
 
Authors: Christiana Nelson

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

tuition.

Jones cited a federal law, which states that if in-state tuition

is unlawfully granted to one student, it must be open to all

students.

Andrews said a loss of out-of-state tuition would cost

universities about $227 million in lost revenues during the first

year.

“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

litigation.”

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

Senate’s modification.

“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.”

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