SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WTVO) — The Illinois Senate passed a bill on Wednesday that would allow undocumented immigrants to receive taxpayer-funded financial aid to attend college.
House Bill 2691 — the Retaining Illinois Students and Equity (RISE) Act passed by a vote of 35-15 and is now headed to the desk of Gov. J.B. Pritzker to be signed into law, according to the Herald & Review.
Under the act, the state would provide monetary assistance, via the Monetary Award Program (MAP grant) to noncitizen students and transgender students not eligible for federal student loan aid because they failed to register for the draft.
“Just because someone is undocumented doesn’t mean they aren’t members of our society. It doesn’t mean that they don’t contribute to our society,” Sen. Omar Aquino (D-Chicago) and lead sponsor of the bill in the Senate, said. “Undocumented families in Illinois are Illinois families. They are Illinois residents that pay taxes – taxes that actually, because they are undocumented, they are not able to receive the return on those taxes back to them.”
The bill has sparked strong opposition from Republicans.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the math is simple,” Sen. Jim Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove) said. “Each and every one of us have students in our districts who are relying on MAP funding. If we’re going to take some of that funding away from our citizens and give it to noncitizens, that means we’re depriving some of our citizens, some of our students, from being able to have that funding to help with their education. This is just absolutely, fundamentally wrong.”
Universities and colleges would benefit from the taxpayer-funded Monetary Award Program grants if qualifying students attend.
The Illinois Student Assistance Commission estimates the measure would increase demand for MAP grants by about $9 million.