House passes bill to give financial aid to undocumented students - WFSB 3 Connecticut

House passes bill to give financial aid to undocumented students

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(WFSB) (WFSB)
HARTFORD, CT (AP) -

Undocumented students known as "Dreamers" are celebrating what they feel is a historic achievement. 

Undocumented students will likely be able to receive financial aid to attend state universities. 

The Connecticut House of Representatives held a daylong debate on legislation to make immigrant students without legal status eligible for instituitional financial aid at state-run colleges and universities.

While the bill cleared the Senate last week 30-5, it didn't have an easy path on Wednesday, with opponents proposing numerous amendments.

Wednesday night's vote passed 91-59, and seconds after it passed, dozens cheered loudly from the balcony above. 

The bill is considered a compromise and includes some provisions of the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals - or DACA - policy, such as requiring applicants not have felony records.

Joseline Tlacomulco is an undocumented student at the University of Connecticut. She and her friends with Connecticut Students for a Dream are celebrating on Wednesday night. 

"It still makes me really happy, the fact that other people will not have to go through the same struggle that I went through. Just knowing that makes me very happy," Tlacomulco said. 

Advocates of the bill say one reason undocumented students deserve access to financial aid is because part of their tution goes into a pot which funds financial aid for Connecticut students. 

Critics say this bill is a mistake. 

"What isn't fair is that we are creating an avenue for illegal immigrants to get an education that they shouldn't be able to get. When they get out of college, they don't have the ability to have legal employment in this country," said Representative Vincent Candelora of North Branford. 

The bill will now head to the governor's desk. 

"I can't even describe it. My heart dropped, I saw everyone cheering as I was about to burst into tears," said Jonathan Gonzalez-Cruz from Connecticut Students for a Dream. 

Copyright 2018 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.