High school students rally to support DREAM Act

by Mara Eyllon on October 5, 2010

Students and community members gathered at Centro Presente last Thursday to bolster support for a bill before Congress that would make going to college less expensive for immigrants – a move which has encountered resistance both nationally and locally.

Led by Somerville High School seniors Chaudeline Francois and Dimos Avila, teens representing several ethnic communities shared their difficulties as resident aliens trying to build their lives in the United States, and how the legislation put forward in Congress would help.

“My life is full of roadblocks and responsibility,” SHS student Kevin Alegria said. “Why should I have to pay three times the price [for college] because I don’t have a nine digit number?”

According to the students, more than one-third of all Somerville residents are foreign-born and 54 percent of high school students’ first language is not English.

The most recent version of the legislation, dubbed the DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors), would grant students conditional permanent resident status for six years and allow them to apply for U.S. citizenship if they go to college or serve in the military.

The law would also remove penalties on states that offer in-state tuition without checking on legal residency status.

In addition to demonstrating high moral character, eligible beneficiaries of the DREAM Act must immigrate to the United States by age 15, reside here for at least five years prior to the bill’s enactment and be under 35.

Student activists supporting the DREAM Act spoke of the barriers they face in the pursuit of their professional aspirations. They cited language difficulties, as well as the struggle to adjust to a new culture while trying to excel in school and help their families. Once they graduate from high school, they are often ineligible for jobs, in-state tuition benefits or federal financial aid.

The event came just after the Board of Aldermen stalled on a resolution that would have expressed support for the DREAM Act. Co-sponsor Rebekah Gewirtz showed up to express support for the students.

“We came up with the idea on our own,” Francois said as the meeting concluded. “I just hope that everyone had fun, because we’re really working hard on this.”

Post to Twitter

Leave a Comment

This blog is kept spam free by WP-SpamFree.

Previous post:

Next post: