DREAM Act gives hope to undocumented students

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When Saul graduated high school he knew he wanted to go to college.

But when trying to apply for financial aid he was denied and sunk into a state of depression.

“Students like me see signs that say ‘Financial Aid. Apply now’ but we can’t apply. I was depressed,” Saul said. “I felt like I couldn’t go to college.”

Saul is just one of the many undocumented students attending Cal State Fullerton.

Like many undocumented students, Saul began working as soon as he got out of high school. He saved his money and with support and help from his parents, Saul was able to attend CSUF and use his own money to pay for books.

“Not every student is as fortunate as me. I know a girl who had to work two jobs and she also had a baby,” Saul said.

Due to their legal status, undocumented students are not eligible for educational funding such as financial aid.

The bipartisan Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, well known as the DREAM Act, will allow for about 2.6 million undocumented immigrants to start their path to legal residency, as well as allow for undocumented students to qualify for financial aid and other California public school scholarships.

Undocumented students would become eligible after they attend college or serve in the military for two years.

About 26 percent of those reside in California.

Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada announced that he would attach the act to the military spending bill with a proposal to open a pathway for undocumented students.

According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, Reid had promised that the DREAM Act would constitute the first amendment to the Defense bill.

Yesterday, the bill was stalled at the senate and was not moved to a floor vote.

The bill’s vote was 56 to 53. A total of 60 votes were needed.

“I think there’s still a lot of different ways (the bill) can pass before November,” said William Perez, associate professor of education at Claremont Graduate University.

Perez, who is also the author of We Are Americans: Undocumented Students pursuing the American Dream, believes that the controversial components of the bill had an effect on the voting outcome and that those issues complicated the bill.

An issue included in the bill, that is considered to be controversial, is a provision to repeal the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy.

Perez also believes that because the bill was attached to the Defense bill, it might have swayed senators to vote against it because they did not believe all of the issues the bill was composed of.

“In previous inductions of the DREAM Act, it has been attached to the Defense bill, which was in 2007,” Perez said.

The DREAM Act has been around for about a decade. It last went to Congress in 2007 and was shy of eight votes, making the vote 52, instead of the needed 60.

“Sen. Bennet of Utah changed his mind and supported the DREAM Act, not the Defense bill,” Perez said.

Sen. Bob Bennet was one of the senators against the bill before he switched positions.

Senators opposing the bill include Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas.

Alliance of Students for an Equal Education had been urging students to call those opposing senators to ask them to vote in favor of the bill.

At an Associated Students Inc. meeting yesterday, CSUF student Diego Gutierrez shared his feelings on the DREAM Act.

Gutierrez asked those in attendance at the meeting to call Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Riverside County office and ask him to support the bill.

Gutierrez was disappointed when he found out about the bill’s vote.

“I am an undocumented student and I have been in this country since I was 8 years old,” said Gutierrez, who is actively involved with CSUF’s ASEE. “I am afraid to go back to the country I was born because it’s a place I don’t really know much about anymore and one I don’t relate to anymore.”

Both Gutierrez and Saul feel that they should be recognized as Americans because they have lived in the U.S. for a majority of their lives.

“I think people are missing the point (of the DREAM Act),” Gutierrez said. “Many of these people are more patriotic than the average citizen.”

With the bill not making its way up to Congressional vote, Perez says there is a perception that America does not care about the act.

“The fact that it was not moved to a floor vote does not represent that there was a lack of support for the act,” Perez said. “There is support.”

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  • Orlando

    An Idea For A Real “American Dream Act” Bill & Counter Attack

    First bring back our soldiers from this Afghanistan war that is costly and going nowhere. Middle Eastern and Asians love to see us waste money and go broke fighting for freedom when they don’t really want it. This is their main weapon and we keep falling into their trap. Then we need to regroup military troops and military force to invade/overthrow Mexico’s government turning it into a U.S territory.

    The new land will be used as an industrial/business commerce zone. U.S citizens will be able to by property and have a dual citizenship between U.S and Mexico. Mexico will keep its current currency and there current government will be demoted to local municipal law enforcement as long as they surrender to the U.S.

    The U.S will be in full control of all laws, local law enforcement, and military control. The path to dual citizenship will require the illegal immigrants living in the U.S to serve in the U.S military for teen years… Along with completing the invasion/overthrow of Mexican government to expand U.S lands, business, and revive our economy. For Mexico citizen requesting to come to the U.S temporary worker programs and legal paths to citizenship & residence will be granted to those who qualify.

    Pass It On!!!

  • panola

    Most eligible illegal’s would not have been teens. The Senate DREAM bill allows you to be up to 35 years old and the House bill has no upper limit.

    The bill is open to gigantic fraud and written so that millions of illegal-alien applicants only have to CLAIM to meet the criteria. They don’t have to PROVE anything.

    This amnesty has no enforcement measures at all. It allows employers to continue to hire illegal aliens, enticing millions more parents to bring their children here illegally and stay long enough for them to become high school students and demand another amnesty in a few years.

    Most importantly it’s not fair for the Feds (taxpayers) to subsidize a college education to illegal’s when we have million of legal kids that need that help.

  • Roger de Flor

    Orlando has it right. The U.S. must conquer Mexico. The country is in desperate times and the only way to save it, is to conquer it. DOWN with MX!

  • Ana

    I can’t believe how much racism still exists and so close to home. It really makes me sad that people turn against each other this way.

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