Catholic Charities comments on Senate Bill 33, Colorado ASSET

on Tuesday, 26 February 2013.

Catholic Charities comments on Senate Bill 33, Colorado ASSET

At Catholic Charities, we work with people who have difficulty making ends meet every day. Our recommendations to them often include education. We warn them that unemployment is double for those who have not earned a high school diploma, and that unemployment drops steadily as one’s level of education increases. Education is a powerful antidote to poverty.

Senate Bill 33, “Colorado ASSET,” will allow undocumented students to pay the in-state tuition rate at Colorado’s colleges and universities. The allowance only applies to those who have attended a Colorado high school for a minimum of three years immediately preceding graduation, or received a General Equivalency Diploma in Colorado. 

Why educate people who have entered the United States illegally? Of the over 11 million undocumented people currently living in the country, many were brought to the United States by their parents at a very young age, and thus had little say in the matter.

The cultural identity of these children is strongly American, with little to no attachment to their country of birth. They long to contribute in meaningful ways – including working and paying taxes – to the economic prosperity of the only nation they have really known.

We already recognize the importance of educating the undocumented among us, and we provide them with a public school education.  Moreover, legal immigration status is not part of the admissions requirements at the schools of higher education at issue in SB 33. 

Most important, these brothers and sisters are human beings worthy of treatment in keeping with their inherent human dignity.  Obtaining a college degree will not only empower these aspiring students, but will also help to form and improve the lives of countless future generations. 

Rather than lock these young adults into cycles of poverty that will ultimately cost the community so much, we have an opportunity to help break those crippling bonds through education and the prospects that come with it.

As the conversation at the Federal level concerning comprehensive immigration reform continues, let us take this first step for the good of Colorado with SB 33. These young adults who are encouraged to become more productive, well-educated professionals will provide their families and our state with lasting benefits for years to come. 

We ask all Coloradoans to urge their state representatives to “Support Senate Bill 33.”

Robert L. Scott
Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of Denver

Mark Rohlena
Catholic Charities of Central Colorado

Joe Mahoney
Catholic Charities, Diocese of Pueblo

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