'Dreamers' push for access to in-state tuition fund in Hartford

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HARTFORD -

So-called "Dreamers" packed the state capitol Tuesday, calling for legislation that would give them equal access to an in-state tuition fund.

One by one in Hartford, the undocumented students asked state lawmakers to change the law, saying it won't affect taxpayers and that it's money students already pay with their tuition.

One of the students present Monday was Michael Hernandez, of Stamford. He came to the United States when he was 10 years old, and says he fled gang violence in Honduras.

"We will not be receiving any money from taxpayers, from the federal government or the state government," he says. "It is money that students are putting into a pool of funds for the university system, and that is where we would be taking money from."

Still, some Republicans worry that opening up the assistance program will cost students who are legal citizens.

Undocumented students already qualify for in-state tuition rates, but Hernandez says with no access to federal student loans, it's not enough.

"We just want a hand," Hernandez says. "We want them to recognize us and to lend us a hand because it's very tough being an immigrant."

Dreamers say that with the national focus on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, they're hoping this is the year that Connecticut passes the bill.

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