Originally published in the October 8, 2010 issue
Most students said they agree that when it comes to undocumented immigrant students in the U.S., they should have the chance to dream.
The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, or DREAM Act, introduced in March 2009 by Sen. Richard Durbin and Rep. Howard Berman, would allow undocumented immigrants who have lived in the U.S. since they were young the opportunity to enlist in the military or go to college.
The act was to be discussed at the UN summit Sept.20-22, but was stalled by the Senate like it has been in the past.
In order to qualify for the DREAM Act, if it passes, those interested would have to meet a set of requirements.
These include: entering the U.S. before turning 16, living in the U.S. for at least five years before the bill’s enactment, graduating from a U.S. high school, having a GED or having acceptance into an institution of higher learning, being between the ages of 12 and 35 at the time of application and having a good moral character.
Because these people would not receive grants or other funding, they will not be taking away from other students, said senior elementary education major Claribel Rocha.
“I don’t see how this could be viewed as negative,” she said. “They want to join the military and pay the state tuition for college. How is that not beneficial?”
Rocha said people may be hesitant to support the act because they may view it as incentive for more undocumented immigrants.
“But the bill states it must be for people who were under 16 when it was created, so it applies to people who they know are the United States,” she said. “Imagine being brought to the U.S and being raised here, and not being able to get an education here. Why shouldn’t you? If they’re qualified, why shouldn’t they be allowed to attend?”
Rocha said she had friends and even know valedictorians who were undocumented and therefore unable to attend college.
“In high school, we all had friends affected by this,” she said. “In order for this to pass, everyone has to be on board.”
Former Association of Latin American Students president and junior management and administration major Yolanda Grajeda said she also knows people who want to attend college but currently are unable.
“I know people who can’t go to college because they don’t have the correct papers,” she said. “Immigrant parents come here for their children to get an education. And without college or the military, they have no choice but to start working and supporting themselves.”
Grajeda said it’s important to inform Bradley students about the DREAM Act because it seems to be less talked about on campus.
“People may be opposed to it because they don’t think immigrants should have certain rights,” she said. “And here, there’s such a low population of minorities and I don’t think we pay much attention to it.”
Sophomore journalism major Sara Bierman said if attending college and joining the military helps lead these individuals to citizenship, then it should be passed.
“It would probably be a good way to not only to help them become legal citizens, but be legal citizens with college skills,” she said.
Rocha said this act, if passed, would not be a “get out of jail free card.” Those individuals would have to work.
“These people have to have good morals,” she said. “They’re good people in bad situations they had no control over.”