Some in Connecticut Question DREAM Act’s Legality

Posted on 04/16/13

In Advance of the DREAM Act, Some Connecticut Authorities State their Qualms

In May 2011, Connecticut passed the DREAM ACT, a piece of legislation that allows undocumented students who graduated from a Connecticut High School to attend a State university and pay the in-state rate. Supporters of the bill called it “common sense” (Governor Daniel Malloy), and argue that these youths’ right to education should not be impeded due to the actions of their parents and their uncertain immigration status. Opponents characterize the bill as placating individuals that came to the United States illegally and fear that the program could displace other qualified students.

A few days ago I came upon in article in the Washington Examiner discussing the legal posture of similar bills around the country. The article cites Federal Legislation passed in 1996 and signed into law by President Bill Clinton, ‘The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act.’ According to Section 1623 of that statute, state colleges and universities are prohibited from providing in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens on the basis of residence within the State, unless the state provides the same benefit to citizens regardless of their residence. The article claims that 12 states, including as Connecticut, are brazenly and unambiguously violating federal law to benefit undocumented individuals.

To this point, the Obama administration has not challenged such state legislation in Federal Court. If the Connecticut Act is challenged, it will be interesting to see if Connecticut’s high school graduation condition adequately circumvents the residency prohibition discussed in the Federal Bill.