Below is a letter by President Ojakian and all 17 CSCU Presidents sent to the entire CT Delegation requesting support of this legislation that would help protect our undocumented students currently pursuing an education in our CSCU system and our state.
January 13, 2017
The Honorable Chris Murphy
136 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Murphy:
First and foremost on behalf of the more than 85,000 students who are part of the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities (CSCU), I want to thank you for your steadfast support. Your consistent advocacy at the federal level ensures we have the critical resources we need to provide our students with the high quality educational experiences they deserve.
I am writing to you and the entire Connecticut Congressional delegation to request your support for the bipartisan Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy (BRIDGE) Act which was reintroduced in the Senate yesterday, with companion legislation expected in the House. As you know, Connecticut believes in accessible and affordable public higher education for all of our citizens, including those who are undocumented. Our institutions welcome students from all walks of life and support their educational goals and dreams, not only because it is the right thing to do, but because investing in all our students improves the sustainability of our communities and the economic competitiveness of our state. In fact, one of our institutions, Eastern CT State University, was selected to participate in a national pilot program fully funded by TheDream.US to provide access to higher education for students locked out by their home states. Currently 46 students are thriving in this special program.
Without protections from the federal government, our students will be vulnerable to the forces that would keep them from our institutions and potentially our country because of their immigration status and that of their parents. We will continue to unequivocally support our undocumented students and provide whatever legal or other services are available during this uncertain time. Recently, along with the 17 presidents of the CSCU institutions, I signed a letter of support for the DACA program (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) together with over 600 college and university presidents from across the country. These DACA students, of which there are more than 5,000 projected in our state, have demonstrated a profound desire and dedication to pursue their education and we should protect them from those that would deny them this educational opportunity.
Crucial to sustain these and other efforts, now more than ever, is the BRIDGE Act, originally introduced in December of 2016 by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and reintroduced yesterday for the 115th Congress. This bill would extend provisional protective presence for three years to any undocumented immigrant who meets the same basic criteria of DACA. Additionally, it would impose restrictions on the sharing of information in DACA and provisional protected presence applications with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection for purposes of immigration enforcement.
Mark E. Ojakian
President, Connecticut State Colleges & Universities
Zulma R. Toro
Daisy Cocco De Filippis
Mary Ellen Jukoski
For more information, please contact:
Maribel La Luz