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BOA committee green-lights DREAM Act resolution | Post Somerville

BOA committee green-lights DREAM Act resolution

by Tom Nash on October 27, 2010

Post image for BOA committee green-lights DREAM Act resolution

Wednesday night marked the third time in a month that immigrant community activists filled a room in City Hall to ask Somerville officials to make the case for a resolution supporting federal legislation that would help the children of undocumented immigrants afford college.

Recent Somerville High School graduate Dimas Avila was one of nearly two dozen people who crowded the Legislative Matters Committee meeting to make the case for support from the Board of Aldermen, which seemed up in the air after some members put the brakes on the measure when it was first introduced in September.

“I have to give half the money I get to support my family,” Avila told the committee members. “I can barely survive; I can’t pay for university. My only hope is the DREAM Act – it’s the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Centro Presente and Welcome Project staff outlined the legislation as an opportunity similar to Temporary Protected Status, in which undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. before age 15 could receive federal loans and be eligible for other financial aid for six years in order to receive some form of higher education.

“We are not demanding free services,” Centro Presente Executive Director Patricia Montes said. “We are demanding the right to be treated as human beings. I can’t believe that in a democracy we are fighting for our right to go to college.”

Following the testimony, the committee voted to take up the issue before the full board at tomorrow’s meeting.

The only change to the resolution was suggested by Alderman-at-Large Jack Connolly, who asked that it credit U.S. Representative and former Somerville mayor Michael Capuano, a co-sponsor of the House version of the bill. The committee voted unanimously to take up the resolution at tomorrow’s meeting.

The School Committee passed a similar resolution supporting the DREAM Act last week.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

John-W October 28, 2010 at 2:13 PM

Just to clarify, young people who fall under the DREAM Act wouldn’t get funds for school. They would be able to apply for a temporary status that lasts six years (not automatically granted, they have to come to this country as a child, not have a criminal record and graduate from a US high school). During the six years they have to get at least an associates degree or serve in the military. If they screw up during the six years (drop out, criminal offenses) they lose the status. So this is something they have to work for and earn, not a given, not a handout.

In reality, many immigrants are poor and supporting more than just themselves, so it’s not a done deal that they will be able to pay for school. Which means that not everyone who applies for citizenship under the DREAM Act is going to make it, but it is an incentive for kids to stay in school, work hard and keep their noses clean. In the end Somerville wins by having a population of students who are MOTIVATED to do well in school and go on to college. This should rub off on their peers and will result in a generation of go-getters.

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