It is a noteworthy moment for an issue that should have been addressed much earlier.
Before this year, measures to provide discounted tuition to illegal immigrants who have graduated from Colorado high schools have been introduced in the statehouse six times since 2003 – and six times they’ve failed. Put another way: Many deserving students in a decade’s worth of senior classes saw their educational opportunities dry up as college was kept prohibitively expensive.
As we’ve said before, many of these students were brought to this country as young children, and know it as home. They have succeeded academically and have managed to defeat the achievement gap.
On Friday, the House delivered an overdue bit of good news for those students when Senate Bill 33 passed on a vote of 40-21. The Advancing Students for a Strong Economy Tomorrow, or ASSET, bill now moves to Gov. John Hickenlooper, who has said he will sign it into law.
While House Republicans killed the measure last year, the party has not been the sole roadblock to passage of the measure that opens the door to opportunity for students.
When Democrats controlled both chambers and the governor’s office in 2009, five Senate Democrats joined with Republicans to vote “no” on the issue and kill a similar bill.
But a more permanent solution is needed. We are cautiously optimistic that federal immigration reform will include the so-called DREAM Act, which offers paths to citizenship for students who pursue college degrees and military service.
Until then, the ASSET bill is a welcome – and overdue – step in the right direction.