State Sen. Beth Bye (D-5th District), co-chair of the legislature's higher education committe, led the Senate's effort to pass a bill on Tuesday that allows certain undocumented high school graduates to be eligible for in-state tuition at Connecticut colleges and universities.
According to a news release from her office, the bill was passed by the Senate by a vote of 21-14, mostly along party lines. Several proposed amendments by Republican lawmakers were defeated, and the debate included "hours of Republican filibustering" before the final vote, according to the release.
The bill already passed the House of Representatives on May 12, and now awaits the signature of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
“This bill is about educational opportunity,” Sen. Bye said in the release. “It’s about students who graduate from Connecticut high schools paying the same tuition as their classmates.”
In a speech before the State Senate, Sen. Bye told the story of her grandfather – the son of an indentured servant who came to Massachusetts from Ireland – and later graduated from Vanderbilt University and Yale Law School.
As she urged support for the bill, Sen. Bye also invoked the words of former President Ronald Reagan who, during his presidency, granted amnesty to 2.7 million illegal immigrants. “I believe in the idea of amnesty for those who have put down roots and lived here, even though sometime back they may have entered illegally,” said Bye according to the release.
According to the news release, the bill will permit those who lack legal immigration status to qualify for in-state tuition if he or she:
- resides in Connecticut;
- attended any educational institution in the state and completed at least four years of high school here;
- graduated from a high school in Connecticut, or the equivalent; and
- is registered as an entering student -- or is currently a student at -- UConn, a Connecticut State University, a community-technical college, or Charter Oak State College.
Those meeting the above criteria must file an affidavit with their college "stating that they have applied to legalize their immigration status or will do so as soon as they are eligible to apply."
According to the release, this legislation is expected to extend in-state tuition to approximately 200 of the 120,000 students who attend colleges in Connecticut.