Elis promote DREAM

Yalies journeyed to Hartford on Wednesday to encourage state legislature to pass the DREAM Act; the vote is on March 15.
Yalies journeyed to Hartford on Wednesday to encourage state legislature to pass the DREAM Act; the vote is on March 15. Photo by James Lu.

HARTFORD – The Yale College Democrats intensified efforts to make DREAM a reality in Hartford Wednesday afternoon.

Over 15 Dems encouraged legislators in the state capital to support the Connecticut DREAM Act, which would allow students who are illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition fees at the state’s public colleges. As well as explaining the benefits of the DREAM Act, the students lobbied for legislation that would end the state’s use of the death penalty, introduced Jan. 5 by Democratic Representative for New Haven Gary Holder-Winfield. The legislature will hold a public hearing on abolition of the death penalty March 7 and one on the DREAM Act March 15.

The Dems noted in their pitch to legislators that similar versions of both bills have been passed before — the DREAM Act in 2007 and the repeal of the death penalty in 2009 — but both were vetoed by then-Governor Jodi Rell. Governor Dannel Malloy has indicated he will sign both acts into law if they reach his desk.

Connecticut Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney and State Senator Edith Prague kicked off the event in the Senate Majority Caucus Room, exhorting students to articulate their position to other state politicians because they have a significant impact in shaping views. Looney told the assembled Dems they would be particularly effective at “making sure people understand what the issues are,” adding that misinformation about both pieces of legislation threatens to hinder passage of the legislation.

“If you can convince one legislator, two legislators, it will certainly make a difference, because these bills are not going to pass with overwhelming support,” Prague said to the students. “You don’t have to come [to Hartford], but you want to, and that shows me the kind of character you have.”

Beau Wittmer ’13, the Dems’ lobbying coordinator, said he was “amazed by the number of students had join[ed the campaign] during this midterm season.” At the end of the talk, he presented Looney with signatures supporting the DREAM Act that the group collected at its New Haven City Hall event last Saturday, which attracted over 150 people.

Students handed out flyers and met personally with over 20 state representatives and senators, Wittmer said. He said the group primarily met with those legislators who had voted against the DREAM Act or death penalty repeal in the past, or who were new to Hartford since both acts were passed.

Democratic Representative Claire Janowski, who sits on the state’s Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee where the DREAM bill is currently being discussed, voted against versions of both the DREAM Act and death penalty repeal in the past. She said she was very impressed by the students she spoke with, adding they helped “clarify her views” enough to potentially vote the bill out to the full legislature.

Another representative, Bobby Sanchez, said the students he spoke with were more convincing than lobbyists who have approached him in the past on the two issues.

“This was definitely one of the best Hartford days this group has had,” Wittmer said. “We made our case, found supporters and even changed a few minds. All in all, a good day.”

Reinstated in Connecticut in 1973, the death penalty has become a particularly contentious issue in recent times, said Rep. Roland Lemar at a Feb. 21 panel discussion organized by the Dems.

He explained that the Cheshire case, in which three people were killed and one of two suspected perpetrators, Steven Hayes, has been convicted and sentenced to death, has given an “emotional backdrop” to the discussion of repealing the death penalty.

“Emotion is informing the politics more than the actual policy is,” he said. “People hear about this one case, and they think there is something evil going on — you know you are not connecting with someone who is thinking about policy.”

The Dems made a similar case to legislators Wednesday.

“The death penalty has a whole myriad of problems with it: an arbitrary application, a high cost and a history of discrimination,” Wittmer said. “Perhaps most of all, it is irrevocable. Innocent people can, and have, died across this nation from this. That possibility needs to end.”

The Dems said in their flyers that Connecticut has only had one execution since capital punishment was reinstated and criminologist and police chiefs “agree that the presence of the death penalty in the judicial system does not deter crime.” The taxpayer cost of maintaining the death penalty, it goes on to say, is higher than if life in prison were the maximum punishment.

Wittmer said that due to the success of lobbying on Wednesday, the Dems are planning another similar trip to Hartford in April.

Comments

  • 06460

    “Connecticut DREAM Act, which would allow students who are illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition fees at the state’s public colleges.” Look, it’s nice to be young, intelligent, and active. It’s nice to have your parents pay for you to attend one of the most elite, and expensive, universities in the country. It’s another thing to act as lobbyists for a state program that is irresponsible both fiscally and socially.

    As you may have heard the State of Connecticut (and it’s municipalities) are currently dealing with massive deficits (CT is about the 5th worst state financially [based on size/population]in the country if I recall correctly). In order to deal with these fiscal responsibilities they are raising taxes, cutting services, and reducing staffing (including teachers, firemen, and policemen (no gender offense intended). We (taxpayers) are actively tightening our belts in order to maintain as much of our current lifestyles as possible while awaiting the upcoming increases on our state and local taxes. Many of us have lost our jobs, many of us have not been receiving annual increases or cost of living increases, and many of us question if our jobs are safe in the near term. Businesses are leaving the state at a high rate due to higher taxation here than elsewhere, passing on more of this burden to those whom remain. Passing the “dream” act sounds nice- education for all, however this causes further undue burden to the residents whom may find it difficult to live, let alone send their own children to in-state schools. It also allows the irresponsible to profit from consciously sidestepping the societal responsibilities of legal residency and paying taxes into a system that they receive benefits from. You may argue that the children of illegal immigrants are penalized, however at the age of 18 they are legally adults and should be held responsible for their own lives. Face it, there is money out there to assist ambitious, smart, and underprivileged kids. Loans, grants, and financial aid is available. It is also possible to get a job to help put yourself through school.

  • 06460

    If you’d like to take up a cause please consider immigration reform. It would provide a much better service to our country to create a path to legal citizenship for illegal immigrants than to further support them in their current status. First we have to control the borders to stop those entering illegally. Next it’s important to create a path that does not penalize those whom have been immigrating legally (with legal representation, visas and paperwork, and fulfilling the vast requirements to remain legal) and that by providing a path that those here illegally start anew and not receive (as some have proposed) reciprocity for social security, etc. benefits that they have never paid into. The opportunity to gain legal status members in our country is a great privilege that many around the world wish for and would gladly trade places for. Once we secure the borders and revise our legal status system it will become unnecessary to promote programs that further draw against law abiding citizens/residents and stop fiscally promoting those here breaking the law.

  • Yalie14

    @06460: According to CT’s Office of Fiscal Analysis, the bill generates a revenue gain for most CT colleges. That’s why all Connecticut State University Presidents support it. This doesn’t even take into account the fact that immigrants who go to college consume on average $3,900 less public social service money and pay $5,300 more in taxes every year.
    Also, you are flat out wrong when you say “there is money out there to assist ambitious, smart, and underprivileged kids. Loans, grants, and financial aid is available.” There is 0 financial aid available to undocumented students. Zero. I know an undocumented student who was given a full ride to a great university, but then it was withdrawn because of his status.
    Eleven other states have passed in-state tuition bills, including NY, Texas, California and Nebraska. This bill reduces Connecticut’s deficit, and it’s just the right thing to do.

  • justayalemom

    @Yalie14, are you talking about legal residents/immigrants or ILLEGALs?

    Why is this even an issue? If they are ILLEGAL, they need to leave along with their families.

    Why is it so hard for the US to impose the CONSTITUTIONAL LAWS we already have?

  • 06460

    Yalie14- How can a bill that reduces the money generated to state schools be considered a gain? They don’t have a legal state status, therefore they would pay out of state tuition (more) if they were allowed to attend. You also note that “immigrants who go to college” consume less social services and pay more taxes, are you refering to “legal immigrants” or “illegal immigrants”? Illegal immigrants do not pay income taxes (federal or state), they only pay sales taxes so I don’t see how that argument stands. My statements regarding financial aid were intended for legal residents and citizens and I’m not in support of further financial assistance for those breaking the law. I’m assuming that the donors to the other “great university” would likely frown on these lawbreakers benefiting from their contributions- similar to their not appreciating anyone whom forged their transcripts getting their money either. Funny thing about those other states giving in-state tuition, at least two of them have such financial problems that we are likely to hear them begging on “the Hill” soon for a bailout or proposing state bankruptcy.

  • Yale2014

    This bill only applies to undocumented students under the condition that they get accepted to a university. With that said, a lot of these students, upon their acception, do not attend the university because it is too expensive; thus, that is a current economic net gain of 0 for the universities. If this bill passes, a lot of students, upon acceptance, will choose to attend university because it won’t be as expensive; thus, resulting in an approximate net gain of $8000 per student, per year. This bill has nothing to do with financial aid. They are NOT getting a scholarship, a handout, nor are tax dollars paying for their education. This also does not guarantee them acceptance. They still have to pay tuition out of pocket. You have to realize that this bill only applies to undocumented students who entered the US prior to the age of 15 (meaning their parents, not them, chose to break the law), these students also had to have graduated from a CT high school, and there is a minimum (I think it’s five years) that they had to have lived in the state of CT for, they have to have at least a 3.0 GPA, and they can’t have any kind of record.

    justayalemom: This bill is for undocumented students. It’s an issue because these students have contributed to their communities since they were children, most of them came to the US as young as the age of 2. It’s not their fault their parents chose to break the law. Also, this is a group of people who want to educate themselves and contribute to the US. Why not let them, especially since the state will GAIN revenue, increase its workforce, and it will decrease the amount of social services that are spent on these individuals. It is not possible, nor is it cost effective, to deport every single illegal immigrant. So why not maximize the revenue the state of CT can gain, and at the same time help well-intentioned students make a better life for themselves, and for their CT communities?

    06460: This bill creates no tax burden on the citizens of CT. It has nothing to do with the tax payers. The undocumented students are still responsible for paying their own tuition rates. It also doesn’t promote illegal immigration. Texas, California, and 9 other states have already passed this bill. They’ve experience no influx of illegal immigration as a result. CT won’t either.

  • 06460

    Yale2014- You appear to be mistaken as well. The Connecticut State University System is not a series of self funding institutions, they are bankrolled primarily by the state (through bonds and state appropriations). Therefore the incurred costs to the state are rolled into the state’s budget and in turn handed down to the state’s taxpayers through taxation. An example of this is from 1997-2010 the state spent $694M(through the allocation of state bonds) to support the non-operating functions of the university system. Also in 2007, Public Act 07-7 was signed on that incurred an additional $950M in state debt for additional aquisitions and development of the system. The state also annually appropriates approx. $250M to run the university system. The operating budgets are about 60% funded through tuition and fees. So, you think it’s not a taxpayer issue? All of these university system costs are directly applied to state residents and businesses as tax burdens. Any rise in operational costs are applied to tuition and fee costs. When you take a group of potential students from out-of-state tuition and fee status to in-state tuition and fee status you offset about $9,000 in tuition and fees for EACH student. It adds up quickly and the burden is applied to all students attending the school. So it does have an impact on taxpayers and the other students.

  • 06460

    To answer your 0 net gain comment, wrong again. There are many students whom are not accepted into the colleges they apply for. If you take the illegal immigrants out of the rolls, someone else will gladly fill the spots and the state gets paid. On to the topic of handouts, etc. illegal immigrants getting in-state tuition get a DIRECT handout if the bill is passed. Offsetting the cost of tuition and fees makes someone else pay for them = handout. That’s about the best kind of financial aid you can get, no strings attached and nothing to repay. The costs don’t just disappear, they are distributed to everyone attending. Let’s say that 5,000 illegal immigrants get in-state tuition per year, offsetting $45,000,000 in out-of-state tuition and fee income. That $45M loss will be redistributed to every student’s tuition and fees as that is part of the bottom line of what it costs to run the university system. There are about 35,000 CT residents in the university system, about 2,000 out-of-state, and about 250 out-of-country students = 37,250 total. Those costs add up quickly to each student.

    BTW- Most universities, private and public, frown on applicants having a criminal record so I’m not impressed that they have to stay out of trouble (like everyone else). I love the comment regarding their “contributions” to their communities from the age of 2-17. Forgive me but it’s a bit hard to believe that significant “contributions” are made anywhere prior to the community service required to graduate from high school or if they are in the Boy/Girl Scouts. On the lack of “influx” of students, if I was the average illegal immigrant kid with ambitions and brains I would gladly move across the state line to get a lower cost education. Sure, maybe it’s not thousands of kids, but I’d bet you it’s hundreds. Even a few hundred at $9,000 a pop adds up to a few million dollars.

    I’m still fine with them getting an education, however they either need to pay their way, find a means to get legal state resident status, or even serve their country in the military for say 5 years and then gain the status to deserve tuition assistance (even the GI bond).

  • justayalemom

    06460…thank you for the explaination. I appreciate someone who knows what they are talking about!

  • Yale2014

    I’m sorry but you’re mistaken. The CSU system and CT community colleges have more than enough space for these students (and this is from their mouths). The presidents of these institutions, including UCONN, would not have sponsored the bill otherwise. “Incurred costs” and “administrative costs” aren’t subject to being fully paid via tuition because these costs aren’t directly related to the students education. Also, these students are subject to dining/food and room costs at the same rate as everybody else. You seem to have miscalculated. Nowadays, tuition bills, food costs, transportation, and room are separate from tuition. They’re still contributing, and most importantly, they’re not taking anybody’s spot. Nowhere on their application does it say “illegal” or “legal.” They’re subject to the same standards as every single other applicant. They receive no special treatment. And like I’ve already mentioned, CSU and community colleges have verified that they have more than enough empty seats, no student, illegal or otherwise, will have their spot taken.

    When I say “contribute to their communities” I should have clarified. The biggest pull factor for immigrants, illegal or otherwise, is economic. The majority come to this country to work. These students’ parents have been paying state sales taxes, and through an alternative number to a social security offered by the IRS, they’ve also been paying federal taxes. In fact, most pay MORE than they will draw, since they don’t qualify for Social Security or Medicare, and yet they pay for it. Refer to the following article: http://www.usatoday.com/money/perfi/taxes/2008-04-10-immigrantstaxes_N.htm. Also, most immigrant children, if not all, work part-time, simply because they usually have to in order to help their family. Of course, legal teenagers work part-time as well, but the rate of part-time employment is significantly higher among low-income families, ie immigrants. Thus, they also contribute to taxes via the aforementioned way. This “myth” that they don’t contribute is not true.

    This bill would impact between 100-350 students in Connecticut, nowhere near 5,000 that you mention. For reference, feel free to refer to the Roosevelt Institute’s most recent report. I’m glad that you mention the military because the DREAM bill actually includes the provision that they would qualify if they plan on serving in the military, and yet, nobody seems to be complaining about “illegals” who are willing to die for this country.

    I’ve already mentioned Texas and ten other states have passed an identical bill and haven’t experienced an influx.

  • jnewsham

    Yale2014, I love you.

  • 06518

    @yale2014 the ITIN does not allow for an individual to legally work in the United States so how do they obtain W-2 or 1099 jobs? I would argue that they DO receive special treatment since they are here illegally. Whether through their own actions or those of their parents they are in the United States illegally. As far as tuition rates go if the state is willing to give a break to someone who is illegally living here why then does the state NOT give a tuition break to a student from say Arkansas?
    Planning to serve in the military and actually doing it are two different things. As a non-documented individual one is currently prohibited from enlisting in the Armed Forces and when youth go to enlist this is usually when their status of being here illegally is pushed to the forefront (from a public law perspective). As a veteran I would not feel very good about someone who is over the age of 18 and has been here for longer than six years who did not take the test for citizenship the day they had turned 18. Also for most positions in the military that require a ssecurity clearance dual citizenship is not allowed.
    As far as the other states that have passed the bill what data shows that there has been no influx?

  • Yale2014

    So that this conversation does not continue ad infinitum, I suggest you read the bill. Their two options are service or university, obviously they can’t just say “I plan to enlist,” and not actually follow through with it.

    It’s not a tuition break. The student from Arkansas didn’t graduate from a CT high school, they haven’t lived in CT for 5+ years, paying CT sales taxes, property taxes, and excise taxes, in the way the undocumented student and his family have.

    And sir, are you telling me that you are not aware of the millions of illegal immigrants who do obtain an ITIN without the knowledge of the IRS, and yet the IRS defends this system, claiming that “we still get the taxes that are due.” And arguably, they do. Who’s going to complain about an influx of revenue from a group of people who can’t even benefit from the taxes they pay? The previous link I posted explains this.

    As for evidence, I would recommend reading anything written by Gordon Hanson.

  • 06518

    How many 18 year olds pay property tax in CT? I beg to differ that it is a tuition break due to the individual not being a “legal” resident of the state of CT. If anything the student should be treated as a foreign student (based on country of origin). Do I think the IRS needs a better tool to weed out individuals who are in the country illegally as the ITIN is about as outdated and abused as the AMT is archaic. Given that most undocumented workers work not in W-2 or 1099 jobs they do manage to avoid a majority, if not all, the taxes due on the wages they earn. Also do they then pay taxes to their home country (as an American abroad is required to do)? The Center for Immigration Studies has found that in some countries with a high rate of undocumented workers up to 70% of the businesses in the home country are exempt from paying taxes so it is a foreign concept when a worker comes to this country through less than legal channels. I have read Hanson and totally disagree with his Logic of Illegal Immigration. I liken him to a member of the Austrian School of Economics which over the course of history has been shown to be a less than effective purveyor of economic thought and policy.
    Food for thought..do you think Yale University should become a willing participant in the DREAM Act and allow students who are in the United States illegally to study here?

  • Yale2014

    Yale University already has an undocumented student studying here.

    Excuse me, did you just disqualify one of the most acclaimed and well respected experts on immigration on the basis of a school you’re associating with him? Not to be ironic, but that’s very rich and elitist of you.

    I appreciate your knowledge, but it’s highly lacking in evidence, or well, any academic backing. I’m not going to repeat myself, nor am I going to repost the articles that more than effectively address every point you’ve made. Quite frankly, I don’t have the time to.

    Good day.