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Jan 26, 2017

Statement in Support of Undocumented Students and CT Students for a Dream

Statement from CSCU President Mark E. Ojakian

Statement from CSCU President Mark E. Ojakian:

“Our undocumented students have and will continue to have our unwavering support. These students have been near and dear to my heart long before my time at the Governor’s Office when we pushed to have undocumented students qualify for in-state tuition. 

 “We believe in affordable, accessible higher education for all students. 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. We fervently supported similar legislation last year and will do so again this year. This is fundamentally an issue about fairness and equity for our students. These students are paying into a fund they cannot access simply because of their immigration status. All this legislation seeks to accomplish is to give all our students equal access to critical financial aid to support their education. 

 “I have spoken with some of our undocumented students and have heard their concerns firsthand. They are scared about what lies ahead for them and their families. If DACA is eliminated and not replaced or abridged, then they will be subject to deportation, realizing our worst fears. That is why I along with all 17 Presidents signed a letter of support for the DACA program together with over 600 college and university presidents from across the country. That is also why, myself along with all 17 of our Presidents successfully urged our Connecticut Congressional Delegation to support the BRIDGE Act – A bipartisan bill, introduced by Sens. Dick Durbin, D-IL, and Lindsey Graham, R-SC, which would extend provisional protective presence for three years to undocumented immigrants who meet DACA criteria.

 “Without protections like the BRIDGE ACT from the federal government, and SB 17 from the General Assembly, it will become increasingly difficult for our undocumented students to continue their education at our institutions and continue to strive and succeed in this state that they call home.

 I want you to know without hesitation that our campuses will continue to welcome ALL students. Our presidents support you, our faculty and staff support you, and your fellow students support you. We will continue to unequivocally advocate for our undocumented students and provide whatever legal or other services are available during this uncertain time, and together we will figure out a way forward. Just know that you are a valued part of our CSCU family, and that entire family stands in strong support of this legislation, but more importantly in support of you.”