State Senate OKs Dream Act for immigrants’ kids
May 5, 2011
SPRINGFIELD — Undocumented college students would gain new access to privately funded scholarships under legislation that passed the Senate on Wednesday with support from immigration-rights groups.
The Illinois Dream Act, which passed 45-11 and now moves to the House, would establish a state commission to dole out privately funded scholarships to as many as 95,000 children of undocumented immigrants. No taxpayer dollars would be used.
The measure, sponsored by Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago), also would allow undocumented immigrants ages 18 to 29 with taxpayer-identification cards to invest in the state’s Bright Start and College Illinois programs.
“We are simply saying they should be treated as other children are who want to go to college,” Cullerton said.
The roll call included support from 34 Democrats and 11 Republicans, including the GOP’s 2010 gubernatorial nominee, Sen. Bill Brady (R-Bloomington).
“This was bipartisan vote. Here in the land of Lincoln, open minds and big hearts prevail, and this was a step in the right direction,” said Lawrence Benito, associate director of the Illinois coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, which pushed the bill.
But some of the legislation’s GOP critics, including Sen. Chris Lauzen (R-Aurora), argued that the bill sends the wrong message because it legitimizes the decision by some immigrants to bypass citizenship, and it could crowd out legal citizens from taxpayer-supported college classrooms.
“How much are taxpayers supposed to give to families breaking the law?” said Lauzen, whose district experienced a 218 percent jump in Latino population since 2000.
“I’m pro-legal immigration, and I’ve lived my whole life where that’s just part of the melting pot, and I love it,” Lauzen continued. “But again, the relationship needs to begin with mutual respect.”
Dear Senator Bill Brady,
I voted for you last year, as I knew you’d be a better Governor than Quinn, but this vote is shameful. Shameful. What were you thinking? We cannot continue to reward illegal behavior and let illegal immigrants use their kids to trump all common sense and good public policy. We will never be successful at controlling the flow of illegal immigrants and deciding as a democratic republic who we want to admit as citizens if we continue to reward folks who use deception and lies to come into this country and live here illegally. Or do you just like the cheap labor for your construction business? Meanwhile, I have an open mind and a big heart and how dare Lawrence Benito imply that those of us who are interested in what’s best for America (and not what’s best for the lucky illegals who decided to ignore our immigration laws) and don’t share his foolish vision of open borders aren’t intellectually sophisticated or caring. I despise that kind of cheap rhetoric, just as I despise the Sun-Times for continuing to use the word “undocumented”. In the end, though, I guess I don’t share the good Senator from Aurora’s concern that the bill will “crowd out legal citizens from taxpayer-supported college classrooms” — quite frankly I’m more worried about out-of-wedlock births and prison crowding.