Senate kills immigrant in-state tuition bill

The state companion to the federal DREAM Act that would have provided college tuition equity to undocumented Colorado high school graduates was lost on a 18-16 vote on second reading, reports Hank Lacey at Colorado Capitol Journal.

Five democrats joined with the Republican minority to halt SB 170.

According to House sources, Sens. Morgan Carroll of Aurora, Jim Isgar of Hesperus, Moe Keller of Wheat Ridge, Linda Newell of Littleton and Lois Tochtrop of Thornton voted against the bill — primarily over concerns about expected deep budget cuts to the state’s community college and university systems and the risk of a lawsuit.

Carroll explained her rationale for voting against fellow Democrats Sen. Chris Romer and Rep. Joe Miklosi’s bill on her blog:

I cannot support SB 170 in a climate where the state is cutting or eliminating over $1 billion of benefits to the people and is facing a $300 million cut to higher education, which virtually ends higher education as we know it in the State of Colorado.

The plight of children who have done nothing wrong nor know no other country as home is a real one but would not be solved by this bill because under current federal law they remain at risk for deportation and have no lawful path to employment. Federal immigration reform is desperately needed to bring a real solution to this and many other problems. The process for legal immigration in this country is broken and needs to be fixed.

SB 170 identifies a real problem but does not provide the solution. I believe the bill is currently at odds with federal law and brings a real risk of the state being sued — and losing.

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