Wednesday night, undocumented students at Penn came one step closer to their dream when the House of Representatives passed the Defence, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act.
The Senate is expected to vote on the Act today. If passed, the DREAM Act will allow children who were born abroad and are not U.S. citizens or legal residents of the country to attend college or join the military, and eventually obtain U.S. citizenship.
Currently, undocumented immigrants violate civil laws by entering the country illegally or overstaying their visa limits.
College junior Rosie Brown — who is the president of MEChA, Penn’s Chicano cultural group — supports the DREAM Act as it will have a “very positive effect” on undocumented students currently at Penn and those who have graduated.
“They will be able to get different jobs than the ones they have now,” she said.
Under the current law, undocumented students who graduate from Penn are not eligible for the same jobs as their peers because they don’t have a Green Card or Social Security Number, Brown added.
College junior and MEChA Vice President Ollin Venegas said he is “cautiously optimistic” that the DREAM Act will be passed tomorrow. “The biggest hurdle is going to be the Senate,” he said. “It’s going to come down to a few key players.”
Many student activists — including Venegas — have been calling senators to urge them to support the DREAM Act. The phonecall initiative is part of a national campaign organized by DreamActivist.org, which aims to place 20,000 calls per day to politicians.
In November, the Undergraduate Assembly passed a resolution to send a letter to state government officials supporting aspects of the DREAM Act that pertain to students.
Wharton sophomore and Latino Coalition Chairman Angel Contrera said he believes that activism on college campuses has made it clear to politicians that the DREAM Act is “something students care about.”
“This is something that has been in Congress for 10 years and we still haven’t completed the DREAM — it still needs to be passed in the Senate,” said Wharton and Nursing junior G. J. Melendez-Torres, former chairman of the United Minorities Council. “What is so critical about this moment is that we’ve come to realize that undocumented immigrants are part of our community, our country and our economy.”Comments powered by Disqus
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