The Colorado ASSET legislation–a state tuition bill which would allow young immigrants living in Colorado to pay in-state tuition for college–has just passed an initial vote in the Senate with three Republican members supporting! Democrats hold enough of a majority in the Colorado Senate to not have needed any Republican support–but three Republican state senators broke away from the intransigence of their national counterparts and voted for the measure.
Here’s more from KDVR News in Denver (emphasis ours):
DENVER — For the first time in a building where in-state tuition proposals for undocumented students have been debated for the last decade, three Republican senators did something historic Friday.
They voted to support the legislation.
Senate Bill 33, which got an initial okay from the full Senate Friday, was going to pass with or without any Republican votes; and with Democrats holding a large majority in the House as well, the measure is certain to finally become law this year.
But the three floor speeches by the three supporting Republicans Friday reflected the public’s growing support for immigration reform — and a divided GOP slowly coming to grips with the undeniable political power of Latino voters just months after another bruising election cycle.
“This is a country where you’re supposed to be able to pursue happiness and I want the GOP to be the Grand Opportunity Party,” said Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray, a longtime lawmaker who, until Friday, had only spoken in opposition to the bill dubbed “ASSET.”
The other two Republican state senators voting “yes” on ASSET were Sens. Larry Crowder and Owen Hill. Sen. Brophy also wrote a long Facebook post detailing why he had changed his mind and gone from being a vocal opponent of ASSET to a supporter. Here are excerpts from his post, entitled “How I became a yes vote on asset”:
Two things have happened to make me re-examine my long held position against in-state tuition.
One is a gradual, over the past ten years representing Eastern Colorado, I’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of really cool kids, some of whom would benefit from the passage of this bill. I don’t ask them, but occasionally their teachers tell me. Combined with the experience of living in the best town on the Plains, it’s hard to ignore the proverbial elephant in the room. There are lots of young people who were born in another country sitting beside kids who were born in Eastern Colorado.
The other was more sudden. A quick dawning of a realization forced by statements made during the GOP Presidential Primary about [immigrants] just going home or self deporting. I have fallen for that siren song before, but knowing the kids that live in my area, I was struck: this is their home.
They cant go home. They are home; looking at the kids in any classroom in Eastern Colorado, you can’t tell [who is who]. They all look the same; they are the same. They are Kit Carson Wildcats, Burlington Cougars, Holyoke Dragons, Wray Eagles or Yuma Indians (the Indians aren’t much good at football, but Yuma Indians they are, 43-0) They’d be as much at home in Chihuahua as my kids would. These kids are fully assimilated into our culture….
I believe that’s the stage two thinking principle that matters. Our Founders wrote that we have certain inalienable rights, one of those is the pursuit of happiness. The ability to own the fruits of your labor; in most cases, those fruits are greater if you are educated. State policy currently denies some kids who have lived here for years access to higher education at the same rates as the rest of their classmates. We can change that. If you accept the reality, they are not going to self deport, you ought to remove a barrier to their natural right to pursue happiness.
In the state legislature, we can’t solve a broken immigration system that denies people the opportunity to pursue the American dream, but we can defy those federal authorities when their policies are contrary to the foundational tenants of our Republic. I’m willing to do that on Second Amendment grounds, why not be willing to do in on pursuit of happiness grounds too?
The bill is up for a final Senate vote next week and then will move onto the House.