A bill allowing undocumented students in Connecticut to receive equal access to institutional financial aid passed in the House Wednesday night.
“Today was a landmark moment for CT,” Camila Bortolleto, Campaign Manager with CT Students for a Dream and DACA recipient, said in a press release from the organization. “Today, our legislators have rejected the partisan divisions in DC and embraced a bipartisan approach to supporting Connecticut immigrant youth.”
The bill passed by a vote of 91-59. Gov. Dannel Malloy has promised to sign the bill into law according to the CT Mirror.
The bill, also known as the “Afford to Dream Act,” will allow undocumented students who have established residency in the state, moved to the U.S. before they were 17 years old, will be under 36 years old by June 15 and have attended a Connecticut high school for at least two years to have access to financial aid from Connecticut state universities. They must also not have a felony conviction.
The bill was passed after more than eight hours of debate and four failed Republican-introduced amendments, according to CT News Junkie.
The passage of this bill has been a five-year fight spearheaded in part by CT Students for a Dream. Last year, the bill passed in the Senate but failed once it reached the House.
“For five years, we have marched, rallied and organized for equal access to higher education and financial aid,” Gabriela Valdiglesias, an undocumented student at a community college, said in the press release. “We have gained the support of legislators and countless community leaders and organizations because of the work of our students and our community.”
Connecticut will join the six states that already give undocumented students access to financial. New Jersey also recently passed legislation to equalize access to financial aid which is expected to be signed into law soon.
“The Trump administration has tried to bury immigrant youth, but today our community has declared that we are still (here to fight),” Najey Clavijo, an undocumented student at Danbury High School, said in the press release. “Today, I know that the state of Connecticut believes in my potential. Today, I can afford to dream.”
Valdiglesias said being able to afford college is important to her personally and her family.
“Getting a college education has always been for me and my family,” Valdiglesias said. “My father works 15-hour days as a painter to provide for our family. I want to make my parents proud and show them that their daily sacrifices since immigrating to the U.S. 16 years ago have all been worth it.”