Most recently news on the U.S. immigration front has been negative, with states like Arizona harshly cracking down on illegal immigrants. Because of this, it is refreshing that my home state of Illinois is doing something to help children of immigrants. The Illinois Senate approved the DREAM Act, which is a version of the federal legislative act that was defeated in the U.S. Congress last year. Basically this Act helps support undocumented children-helping them get a college education–and with no taxpayer money contributions. Many of these children, through no choice of their own, came to the U.S. illegally. Now when they graduate high school…then what? If they want to continue their education, but need help paying for it, they are not eligible for in-state college/university tuitions or funding like Federal Pell Grants. If higher education is not an option then they are forced to work under the table or face deportation-but in many cases the U.S. is the only home they know.
The DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) would establish a privately-funded (NPO) scholarship-the Illinois DREAM Fund–to aid undocumented students in obtaining higher education. About 95,000 Illinois residents (between 18-29 yrs.) would be eligible. I love the fact that the passing of this Act was a bipartisan effort. The Republicans and Democrats both recognized that helping these children get an education makes sense and enables them to be productive members of society/the economy.
The next step is that the Act must go to the Illinois House for approval.
Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois is going to try to revive the federal version of the DREAM Act which also includes helping these undocumented youth obtain permanent residency and eventually citizenship.