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Reports from Policy Analysts

Proposed Legislation Regarding DREAMERs, Illegal Aliens, and Higher Education in CT

Submitted On: Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Analyst: Ferruci, Stephen

It will come as no surprise to learn that the issue of illegal aliens is on the minds of Connecticut’s legislators, and there are at least five bills dealing with some aspect of this larger issue pending before the Joint Committee on Higher Education and Employment Advancement during the 2017 legislative session. The first is a bill that would “permit any person who is entitled to classification as an in-state student for tuition purposes” to be “eligible for financial assistance to attend a public institution of higher education” (Proposed Bill No. 17). This is not the first time that democratic law-makers have tried to pass a bill allowing DREAMERs to claim financial aid, as some form of this bill has been proposed for the last four legislative sessions (“‘Dreamers’ Optimistic They Will Win College Aid Fight”). PB No. 17 is now open for public comment. A second proposed bill (no. 137) seeks to amend “title 10 of the general statutes” to, among other things, “increase state funding for special education and English language learners” and “protect immigrant students and their families.”

Of related interest and concern are three bills which seek in some way to punish those in Connecticut whose support runs contrary to what may become federal law regarding immigrants, illegal or otherwise. The first is Proposed Bill No. 5639 which seeks to “prohibit undocumented immigrant aliens from qualifying for in-state tuition.” A second, Proposed Bill No. 5316 seeks to “eliminate state funding of any public institution of higher education that adopts policies or procedures concerning the protection or sheltering of illegal immigrants akin to those adopted by sanctuary cities.” And a final bill, Proposed Bill No. 6091, asks “That the general statutes and public and special acts be amended to suspend any funding to a municipality that adopts a sanctuary city policy that is in violation of federal and state law.”

What will happen with any of these bill is unclear, as the Senate is evenly split (18 Democrats, 18 Republicans), and Democrats hold a slight majority (79 to 72) in the House of Representatives. In the past, Governor Malloy (D) has expressed support for the DREAMERs initiatives. In response to President Trump’s statement that sanctuary cities should lose federal funding, “Malloy said he would sue if a federal policy tried to strip funding from those places in Connecticut” (“Sanctuary Cities”).

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