Dozens of teenagers, the children of recent immigrants, turned out for a ceremonial bill signing with Governor Dannel Malloy today in New Haven. As WNPR’s Lucy Nalpathanchil reports, advocates for the in state tuition bill that became law July 1, say the moment was a long time coming.
The crowd of college hopefuls cheered Gov Malloy as he signed the bill inside the lobby of Wilbur Cross High School. Joining the young adults were immigrant advocates and congregational members who lobbied for the bill in their home communities across Fairfield and New Haven counties.
18 year old Maria Praeli spoke for those undocumented students in the room.
“By signing this bill into law, you have opened one more door, you have brought us one step closer to pursuing our dreams of higher education.”
She came to this country with her parents from Peru when she was five years old. The law allows undocumented students to be eligible for in state tuition rates at CT universities and colleges. Before the new law, illegal immigrants who pursued higher education had to pay the out of state rate which made their dreams unaffordable.
The campaign for the in state tuition bill began several years ago. In 2007, the legislature narrowly passed the controversial bill only to see then Governor, Republican Jodi Rell veto it. And in subsequent years, the bill failed to be called for a vote. But long time supporter, Senate Majority leader Martin Looney says this year was different.
“This time the governor of the state of Connecticut was an advocate of this bill. He had said durng his campaign this was an important policy issue for him, he was forthright and four square on this bill from the beginning.”
Governor Malloy, a Democrat, says he backed the measure because it was common sense to support children who are raised here and educated in Connecticut schools no matter their citizenship status.