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Colorado tuition bill for illegal immigrants clears House committee but still faces death threat
A bill to create a lower college-tuition rate for illegal immigrants passed a House committee Monday evening on a 7-6 vote — a historic first for the legislation, though it still faces potential death before another committee.
Dozens — including some big political names in Colorado — had signed up to testify before the House Education Committee, which was hearing Senate Bill 15.
By Tim Hoover
The Denver Post
The bill would create a new category of tuition for illegal immigrants higher than in-state tuition but lower than out-of-state tuition. The bill would apply to students who have attended a Colorado high school for at least three years and graduated.
The bill represents the sixth attempt by proponents to lower tuition for illegal immigrants, who now must pay out-of-state tuition rates that are often more than twice as much as in-state rates.
For example, while an in-state student at the University of Colorado at Boulder would pay $9,152 for 30 hours of credit under the bill, an illegal immigrant would pay $11,012 for the same number of hours.
An out-of-state student would pay $30,330 per year in tuition.
The legislation cleared the Democratic-controlled Senate but still must go through the Republican-led House, where a similar bill died last year in the House Education Committee. However, Rep. Tom Massey, R-Poncha Springs, the chairman of the committee, indicated this year he might switch his vote and support the bill, which he did Monday night.
Despite the bill clearing Massey's committee, it may face a tougher time before the House Finance Committee, where it heads next and most observers expect it to die. If it survives, it passes on to the House Appropriations Committee.
Supporters have been enlisting the aid of top Republican donors such as Aspect Energy chairman Alex Cranberg and Colorado Rockies co-owner Dick Monfort, both of whom tout the bill.
"I believe this bill represents a lot of what the Republican Party stands for," Cranberg said, arguing the bill empowers people to be responsible for themselves.
Students who would be affected by the bill, such as 19-year-old Arturo Torres, who was brought to the U.S. at age 5 by parents who immigrated illegally, implored lawmakers to vote yes.
"I am speaking on behalf of all those students who remain in the shadows without a voice," Torres said.
But equally passionate arguments came from opponents, including Anil Mathai, a Westminster man who said his parents emigrated from India legally. Mathai said that while a cousin was denied U.S. entry on technical grounds, his family never broke the law to help the cousin.
"This bill is not humane. It is an attempt to develop future voters for a certain party," he said.
Tim Hoover: 303-954-1626 or email@example.com
Colorado tuition bill for illegal immigrants clears House committee but still faces death threat - The Denver Post