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Illinois Dream Act Passes, by Elizabeth Murphy

During a recent Republian Presidential debate, candidate Rick Perry announced that, in Texas, students who were brought into the United States illegally by their parents when they were children are entitled under Texas law to pay the same in-state tuition rates as other students. What Perry actually said was, "If you say that we should not educate children who come into our state for no other reason than that they've been brought there through no fault of their own, I don't think you have a heart" (CNN website).However, for whatever reasons, Texas Governor Rick Perry does not support the Federal Dream Act, which would make the right to an education for these undocumented children, a law across the United States.
The state of Illinois recently passed its own version of the Dream Act, which Governor Quinn signed on August 1, 2011.This new Illinois law allows immigrant students, both legal and undocumented, to have access to scholarship funds to use for college.

The state of Illinois has joined ten other states that insure that all of the children in their state have the right to an education. "California, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin permit undocumented students who have attended and graduated from the state's primary and secondary schools to pay the same college tuition as other state residents" (American Immigration Council website).
Although the states cannot grant citizenship to the undocumented children of immigrants, they can help them to obtain a college education that they might not otherwise be able to afford. According to the American Immigration Council, "Almost 40 percent of undocumented children live in families below the federal poverty line, compared to just 17 percent of native-born children" (AIC website). Many of the Illinois state Dream Act recipients will have to follow special guidelines in order to qualify for scholarship funds: a student must:
+ have at least one immigrant parent
+ have attended school in Illinois for 3 years
+ have a high school diploma or GED from Illinois
The scholarship funds must come from private donations to the Illinois Dream Fund which will be distributed by a specially formed commission (Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights website). Governor Quinn of Illinois has stated that, "The Illinois Dream Act creates more opportunities for the children of immigrants to achieve a fulfilling career, brighter future, and better life through higher education" (Mother Jones website).
CNN website
MOTHER JONES website (