For the sixth time, Democratic lawmakers are reviving a bill that would allow undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates at Colorado universities as senators introduced the bill, state-version of the DREAM Act, Wednesday. Last year, the Colorado Senate passed the bill, but it died in the House on a 7-6 party line vote in the education committee.
Democrats have continually tweaked the bill to try to garner Republican support. Last year, the bill stipulated that students who were undocumented immigrants and spent at least three years in a Colorado high school could pay in-state tuition but would be “ineligible for a Colorado stipend granted to legal in-state tuition residents.” Sen. Angela Giron (D) said she hopes Republicans support the bill with the additional changes, explaining that the state can’t wait to enact it:
“None of us want to create an underclass of people,” Giron said. “The state can’t afford that, and this country can’t afford a permanent underclass. They’re here. Let’s make the most of it.”
The new bill differs from last year’s because it includes an option for colleges to refuse to participate. Giron said the caveat was added to appeal to Republicans who opposed the plan last year. [...] She hopes Republicans who viewed the proposal last year as a reward and an incentive for illegal immigration will rethink their positions.
“The census show people that this is an issue that they at least have to pay attention to and take more seriously,” Giron said. “We need to look at the population in our state and across this country. It affects who we elect in what they support.”
Republicans have argued that allowing undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition would incentivize illegal immigration. “Are we teaching a new generation that it’s OK not to follow the laws of our country?” state Rep. Robert Ramírez (R) said in 2011. He voted no in 2011 on the tuition bill.
So far, about a dozen states allow undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition at colleges. In Georgia, state Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan (D) said she plans to introduce similar legislation during the Georgia legislature’s 2012 session.