The DREAM Act, which would allow undocumented student immigrants to attend college, enlist in the military and become permanent U.S. residents, failed to pass as an amendment to a federal defense spending bill Tuesday afternoon.
Though student activists at Penn were disappointed at the outcome, they say they will continue to campaign for the Development, Relief and Education for Minor Aliens Act’s passage.
According to College junior and MEChA Vice President Ollin Venegas, more than 65,000 undocumented students graduate from high school every year. But few Penn students realize that “there are actually undocumented students who are at this school, and who have graduated,” he added, drawing parallels between them and Harvard University junior Eric Balderas, an undocumented immigrant who was arrested by immigration authorities last June.
MEChA — Penn’s Chicano culture group — has been campaigning alongside the Latino Coalition, the Asian Pacific Student Coalition, Lambda Alliance, UMOJA and the United Minorities Council for the DREAM Act.
In anticipation of Tuesday’s vote, many MEChA members spent the weekend lobbying senators to support the Act, Venegas said. Although there is no timeline for when the DREAM Act will be considered again, MEChA members hope to encourage the entire Penn community to take “a more proactive approach” to campaign for its passage.
MEChA is organizing a “teach-in” on College Green next week, at which academics and undocumented students from Temple University will be invited to speak about the DREAM Act.
In February, Penn President Amy Gutmann publicly confirmed the University’s endorsement of the DREAM Act and wrote to Pennsylvania politicians to garner their support.
Political analyst and St. Joseph’s University History professor Randall Miller, however, is skeptical about the impact of Gutmann’s endorsement. He said while the DREAM Act would be beneficial to alien minorities, it is an “unpopular legislation” which some politicians fear will grant “privileges” to undocumented immigrants.
“One could argue that reason is taking a backseat to passion and impassioned rhetoric, where university presidential endorsements have very little sway,” he said.
With the midterm elections approaching, “politicians will be less willing to push for controversial legislation,” Wharton senior and APSC Chairman Rohan Grover said.Comments powered by Disqus
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