Gov. M. Jodi Rell Tuesday vetoed a bill that would have allowed children of illegal immigrants, who graduate from Connecticut high schools, to qualify for in-state tuition rates at state colleges and universities.
Supporters of the bill say they see little chance to override Rell’s veto. The measure passed the House by 76-67, far below the two-thirds majority required for an override. The Senate vote was 20-15.
“I understand these students are not responsible for their undocumented status, having come to the United States with their parents,” Rell said in explaining her veto. “The fact remains, however, that these students and their parents are here illegally and neither sympathy nor good intentions can ameliorate that fact.”
Rell said the bill would require students seeking in-state tuition rates to file an application to legalize their status, an action she said would “greatly increase the likelihood that they would be deported.”
The governor said she feared the bill could “encourage others to come to Connecticut in violation of federal immigration laws.”
Experts estimate that 200 to 250 children of illegal immigrants who graduate high school in Connecticut each year would have been able to apply for in-state tuition rates under the bill. The Pew Hispanic Center estimates there may be as many as 100,000 illegal immigrants in Connecticut.
Bill opponents applauded Rell’s veto.
“I think we have (tuition) funding issues for a lot of residents of Connecticut,” said Sen. Len Fasano, R-North Haven. “Before we expand the scope of that financial health, we need to make sure our legal residents are taken care of.”
Sen. Dan Debicella, R-Shelton, agreed, saying, “In a world of limited resources, the governor made the right decision. This is only about an issue of legality. . .. We can’t be rewarding illegal behavior.”