Illegal immigrants testified before the legislature's Higher Education Committee for hours Tuesday in hopes of securing access to financial aid at state colleges.
Currently, all students at state colleges must pay a portion of their tuition into the college's own financial aid system regardless of citizenship status. Those who are in America illegally can't apply for institutional aid.
Those supporting undocumented immigrants and want them to be able to receive government benefits brought a new bill called HB 5031 before the legislature that could change that.
One illegal immigrant named Hazel Mencos spoke in favor of the legislation. Mecos is a 16-year-old student at Wilbur Cross High School and she spoke of crossing the border as an unaccompanied child three years earlier.
Mencos says she was fleeing violence in her native country of Guatemala. "Many, many children in other countries want to go to college, and they can't go," she said. "HB5031 will be one of the things that will help me a lot in the trajectory of my education in this country."
If undocumented immigrants dedicated as much time to becoming legal citizens as they did trying to gain free government benefits at the expense of hardworking, taxpaying Americans they might actually be able to attend a state college.
Kaley Lentini of the American Civil Liberties Union called our countries law a barrier to financial aid that is unjust and wrong. "By placing an unequal financial burden on both undocumented students and their families, Connecticut is hamstringing itself and its future," Lentini said.
"They offer talents and skills that Connecticut should encourage and seek to benefit from," she said. Again, if half of these resources from liberal institutions like the ACLU were spent on helping undocumented immigrants gain citizenship instead of seeking shortcuts to circumvent the law they might see greater success.
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