The Colorado Legislature is once again tackling the issue of tuition for the children of illegal immigrants, and yesterday, CU's Board of Regents voted 5-4 to support Colorado ASSET, with Republican Regent Tillie Bishop joining the Democrats. The vote came after much passionate discussion -- because with every issue involving illegal immigration, there is always passionate discussion.
We talked about Colorado ASSET on Colorado Public Television's Colorado Inside Out public-affairs roundtable last week, and after I said that I endorsed the proposal, I received this e-mail from Larry in Brighton:
Just saw a portion of your TV spot...where you are worried about higher education for students of illegal immigrants. What about my grandson with a 4.4 average and his advisor told him there are "no" college/university grants/programs available for him? He is the child of "legal" US/Colorado citizens....where is the equity in being "legal"?
For the record, Colorado ASSET would create a third category of tuition at state schools: standard-rate tuition. To be eligible for this rate, a student would have had to attend three or more years of high school in Colorado and graduate or obtain a GED. The student would then have to apply and be accepted at one of Colorado's institutions of higher learning within twelve months. Colorado ASSET students would not be eligible for any state or federal financial aid.
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But what they would be eligible for is a potential future. They could stay in the state that might be the only home they've ever known -- many of these students were brought to this country as infants -- and continue their education.
Rather than costing the school money, speakers addressing the the CU Regents said that ASSET could bring in an additional $4 million annually to institutions of higher education in Colorado.
Maybe some of that money can go to aid for students like Larry's grandson.
Before Helen Thorpe's husband, John Hickenlooper, was elected governor of Colorado, she published Just Like Us, which follows four girls from Mexico -- two here legally, two here illegally -- as they graduate high school and go to college. Thorpe followed another Denver high school student, a boy named Pablo, for "Head of the Class," a Westword story.