The Afford to Dream Act which would give undocumented students access to institutional financial aid passed in the Connecticut Senate today.
“Today, our Senators have rejected the partisan divisions in D.C. and embraced a bipartisan approach to supporting Connecticut immigrant youth,” said Camila Bortolleto, Campaign Manager for CT Students for a Dream. “The bipartisan vote in the Senate confirms what we already knew - this bill is good for our students, our schools and our state.”
The bill has passed the Senate the past three years it has been introduced before ultimately being defeated, according to a press release from CT Students for a Dream. Yesterday’s vote of 30-5 was the largest margin by which the bill has passed, the press release said.
Len Suzio, Joe Markley, Eric Berthel, Tony Guglielmo and Scott Frantz, all Republicans, voted against the measure, according to CT News Junkie.
Najey Clavijo, an undocumented Danbury High School Student, said without the bill she does not know if she will be able to go on to study computer engineering at an institute of higher education.
“Today I came to the Capital for the second time…during my spring break to tell my legislators one thing - my dreams can no longer wait,” Clavijo said.
In order to qualify for institutional financial aid under the legislation students have to have arrived in the United States before they were 16 years old and cannot have a felony conviction, CT News Junkie reported.
Bortolleto said the House must move to vote and pass the bill, calling on Rep. Joe Aresimowicz to initiate it.
“It's time, Rep. Aresimowicz, to bring this common sense, bipartisan bill for a vote now,” Bortolleto said. “The Senate has done their job, now it's your turn. Our community and our youth are counting on you for leadership.”
“This bill is about giving opportunity. What this bill is about is the importance of giving an education. Education is an equalizer,” said Senate Majority Leader Len Fasano of North Haven.
A similar bill passed in New Jersey last week. The bill must still be signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy. Former Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a similar measure in 2013 according to NJ Spotlight.
Bortolleto said the passage of this bill is a sign that Connecticut can rise above the partisanship that currently afflicts Washington politics.
“While D.C. has failed again and again to support immigrant youth since the end of DACA, Connecticut can do better. We can rise above the partisanship of Washington, D.C. and protect our people,” Bortolleto said. “It's time to build on the bipartisan momentum.”