Local Leaders Speak About ASSET Bill
KREX News Room
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - A bill that hopes to secure in-state tuition for undocumented students is being brought in front of the Colorado Senate once again.
Senate Bill 13-033, or the ASSET Bill, has failed in the Senate several times in the past, but some supporters feel the newly Democrat controlled House and Senate may help it pass this time.
People on both sides of the issue surrounding undocumented students seem to agree about one thing.
"It is a dysfunctional system," said Sen. Steve King (R) District 7.
"Everyone agrees that it's an issue that needs to be addressed for political reality's sake but for also simple fairness' sake," said Dan Robinson, Chairman for the Colorado Mesa University Board of Trustees.
The ASSET Bill aims at giving in-state tuition to undocumented students who have spent at least three years in a Colorado high school prior to graduation or receiving their GED. Many of these students have grown up and spent the majority of their lives in the United States.
"They pay [sales] taxes, they've been residents of Colorado and therefore should enjoy the benefits of being a resident in Colorado," said Robinson.
The Colorado Mesa University Board of Trustees have unanimously supported the bill.
"Lets acknowledge that many of these [students] are products of our public school system, we've invested a lot of time and a lot of money in developing them as students who have risen to the top and are exceptional students. Let's not let them die at that point," said Robinson.
It's something Senator Steve King says he understands, but still will not be voting in favor of the bill.
"I just don't think Colorado is the place to fix that problem, the federal government and this administration are the ones that need to fix that problem," said King.
Through ASSET, undocumented students would have to sign an affidavit stating that they will apply for legal citizenship as soon as possible. King says because of federal regulations, that would be problematic.
"Once we get beyond higher education, that is where: they don't have a social security number, they have to return to their country of origin for 10 years before returning to the United States. I just don't see how we're going to do that and I think it's unfair to put these kids under that kind of duress," said King.
"No country in the world punishes the children for the crimes of their parents, in some respects that's what's happening here," said Robinson.
Robinson says recent federal cases in other states have recognized that in-state tuition for undocumented students is protected in the constitution.
"We can't charge illegal immigrant students more than we charge anybody else because the Equal Protection Clause in the 14th Amendment is the one place in the constitution that refers to persons, not 'citizens,' persons," said Robinson.
If ASSET were to pass, Colorado would join the 13 other states who offer in-state tuition to undocumented students.