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Denver debates college tuition for illegal immigrants

June 8, 2008 | 10:44 am

The issue of whether illegal immigrants should receive the benefit of lower tuitions has been the subject of much debate in recent years, writes The Times' DeeDee Correll in this story. Advocates say that out-of-state rates put college out of reach for such immigrants and that children shouldn't be punished for their parents' decisions to enter the country illegally. Opponents argue that illegal immigrants should not receive the same benefits afforded legal residents.

Nowhere is that debate hotter right now than in Denver, where Mayor John Hickenlooper is making good on a pledge to pay college tuition for a group of students who've completed high school.

But the deal has soured for some students in the group: those who are illegal immigrants, writes Correll. Because they would be required by Colorado law to pay out-of-state tuition, it would cost much more to pay for their college educations.

Although the mayor says he will give the students the same amount of monetary support that legal residents will receive, it's far less than what they will need to cover tuition. At least 10 of the 38 who graduated are affected, according to a private group helping the students.

Some now say the mayor has backed away from a commitment that boosted their hopes for the last four years. But Hickenlooper's senior policy advisor, Katherine Archuleta, says the mayor has kept his promise. The decision by the state Legislature to charge out-of-state rates "was not in his control. He's doing everything he can."

"In this case, the students shouldn't receive any aid at all," said Stan Weekes, director of the Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform. "Aiding and abetting illegal aliens is a felony, and it's my contention that His Honor would be guilty of a felony."

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