Immigration reform, job creation and community balance were some of the topics raised at Norwalk City Hall Wednesday night during Governor Dannel Malloy's first community forum of the year.
Immigration reform was heavily discussed after a question from Junior Sierra, a student at Brien McMahon High School's Center for Global Studies, revealed he is an undocumented immigrant and could not take advantage of a scholarship won at a science fair.
Sierra asked, "What initiative will you be taking to help this communit of students to go to college? Because I know we have in state tuition for undocumented students but that's still not enough"
"Unfortunately I cannot change the federal rules," responded Governor Malloy. "When it comes to eligibility for federal programs, it doesn't matter what I do in the State of Connecticut, I can't make you automatically eligible for those programs. Whether there is another way to be helpful beyond in-state tuition, we'll have to figure it out."
Linda Czaplinski took issue with Governor Malloy's response to Sierra. She said, "Our citizens are working to put our own kids through school and you are contemplating using our tax dollars to subsidize someone who does not belong here."
"He's [speaking about Sierra] won awards, he may be a budding scientist. He may be a person who can contribute quite a bit to our economy in the future. Should we deny him? Should we deny ourselves the opportunity to benefit from his presence in our country?" said Governor Malloy.
Governor Malloy also took on the issue of the lack of jobs in the State.
Marcel Fontaine, a student at Norwalk Community College asked, "What are your proposed plans to try to bring more youth to the job market?"
Governor Malloy said, "We have some programs out there. We've invested in small businesses through the Small Business Express Program. We've distributed about $125 million to small businesses that could not access low interest loans for much of the last three years. That program has helped create a total of about 13,800 jobs in the State of Connecticut.