News / USA

    Illinois DREAM Act Becomes Law Amid Immigration Reform Debate

    Illinois Governor Pat Quinn celebrates with students and supporters after signing the Illinois Dream Act into law at a Latino neighborhood high school in Chicago, Aug 1, 2011
    Illinois Governor Pat Quinn celebrates with students and supporters after signing the Illinois Dream Act into law at a Latino neighborhood high school in Chicago, Aug 1, 2011

    The Illinois DREAM Act, recently signed into law by Governor Pat Quinn, gives undocumented immigrant students access to privately funded college tuition assistance.  Illinois, a state with one of the highest populations of illegal aliens, is the latest to pass such a measure.  But lawmakers in other states, most notably Maryland, are working to stop similar legislation.

    One student's story

    Noor is a recent college graduate who lives in suburban Chicago.  Originally from Pakistan, she came to the United States with her family more than a decade ago.  Since that time, she has been an undocumented immigrant, trying to navigate through life and a college education.

    "My parents have paid practically every dollar out of their own pockets.  It seems archaic, but because I couldn't work, they had to do it for me.  I didn't get any student loans, any financial aid at all.  They had to pretty much work day and night to put me through school," Noor said.

    Why it's important

    Even though she won't benefit from the program, Noor is an enthusiastic supporter of the Illinois DREAM Act.  It gives illegal immigrants like her a way to receive privately funded financial aid to help pay for the high costs of college tuition.

    "We can't get student loans or anything like that, so we are like at a standstill.  Our lives are pretty much on hold until we are legal.  So for people like us, this is extremely important," she added.

    Illinois is the latest state to draft legislation giving undocumented students an opportunity to complete a higher education.  The Illinois DREAM Act creates a commission that will oversee the distribution of financial aid to applicants.  

    Opponents

    The measure enjoyed bipartisan support when it passed in the state legislature earlier this year.  But Kristen Williamson, a spokesperson for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, says her organization opposes it.

    "This opposition doesn't come from trying to punish the kids or students for the sins of their parents, but rather not reward the parents for illegal activity.  With the DREAM Fund commission, specifically in Illinois, although the money is coming from private funds, the funds are tax exempt," Williamson said.

    And Williamson says opposition against similar measures in other states throughout the country is growing.

    "Illinois is moving in the opposite direction of the rest of the country.  I believe that there are 11 other states that have a version of the DREAM Act and I think in nine of them there are movements to get rid of it," said Maryland State Delegate Patrick McDonough.

    Maryland example

    In April, lawmakers in Maryland passed a law that would provide in-state tuition discounts under certain circumstances to undocumented students.

    "It's a displacement of a citizen.  If they get a certain slot at an education institution or they receive a certain scholarship or benefit, that is money that is going to be displaced that could be available in these very difficult economic times to a family member or an American citizen," said McDonough, a Republican who opposed the measure in Maryland.

    He spearheaded a successful petition drive in Maryland to suspend the legislation.  He says close to 75,000 people signed the petition.  The issue now goes before voters in a statewide referendum during next year's general elections.

    "In Maryland, it's going to have a big impact.  It's going to bring out to vote a tremendous number of people, many of whom have never voted before.  It's going to affect our congressional and U.S. Senate races.  And I intend to run for the United States Senate against incumbent Democrat Ben Cardin and it's certainly going to have an impact on that race," McDonough added.

    Legislation for a national DREAM Act, or Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act, which provides a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, was first introduced in the U.S. Congress in 2001.  It passed the House of Representatives last year, but did not have the support necessary in the Senate to become law.  The legislation was reintroduced in May in response to President Barack Obama's call for a comprehensive immigration reform bill.  Lawmakers have yet to take up the measure.


    Kane Farabaugh

    Kane Farabaugh is the Midwest Correspondent for Voice of America, where since 2008 he has established Voice of America's presence in the heartland of America.

    You May Like

    Former US Envoys Urge Obama to Delay Troop Cuts in Afghanistan

    Keeping troop levels up during conflict with both Taliban and Islamic State is necessary to support Kabul government, they say

    First Lady to Visit Africa to Promote Girls' Education

    Michele Obama will be joined by daughters and actresses Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto

    Video NYSE Analyst: Brexit Will Continue to Place Pressure on Markets

    Despite orderly pricing and execution strategy at the New York Stock Exchange, analyst explains added pressure on world financial markets is likely

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora