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The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Endorsement of DREAM Act will see SRC vote in April

This April Macalester may come one step closer to joining a list of colleges and universities urging the government to legalize financial aid for undocumented minors living in the US.

Student representatives from Adelante!, the Latino/a cultural org on campus, presented their argument supporting Macalester’s potential endorsement of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act at a Social Responsibility Committee (SRC) meeting this week. If the endorsement wins a majority vote, the school will formally publish a letter of support, likely written by President Brian Rosenberg, on Macalester’s main website. The advocation would also be made public on the College Board, National Immigration Law Center and Act On a DREAM websites. Though it would not change Macalester’s financial aid policies, this endorsement is intended to increase political pressure on the government to legalize the DREAM Act.

Adelante! has been pursuing the “Dare to DREAM” campaign since the beginning of last semester and the movement is gaining ground rapidly. Rosenberg personally endorsed the act as a private citizen early in the semester and Adelante! hosted immigrant rights activist Gaby Pacheco as the keynote speaker for this year’s Latin@ Week, for which she spoke about her support for the DREAM Act. The SRC will take a final vote on the issue at its next meeting in April, a date far ahead of the schedule Adelante! was expecting.

The DREAM Act was proposed to state and federal legislation in 2001 and was reintroduced in May 2011 after a period of inactivity. With 2.1 million undocumented minors in the country, the DREAM Act would extend access to a college education and military service by releasing embargos on federal financial aid.

DREAM Act on campus

Monday’s presentation, spearheaded by Adelante! co-chairs Jocelyne Cardona ‘14 and Jessica Muñoz ‘14, pinpointed fair access to education, increased federal tax revenue and a strengthened workforce as the main reasons to support a school endorsement of the bill. They also clarified general misconceptions about its restrictions and guidelines.

“[Those opposed to the DREAM Act] argue that [the minors affected] are undocumented students and shouldn’t be receiving federal aid,” Muñoz said.

“There are misconceptions that people from other countries will bring their kids here to get a college education, but there are so many other steps [requirements],” added Adelante! member Erica Martinez ’12.

In order to qualify for DREAM Act benefits, undocumented residents must have come to the US by age fifteen, have lived here for at least five consecutive years and be under 35. They must also pass background checks and receive a high school diploma or GED. Cardona and Muñoz highlighted the reasons why they believe Macalester will benefit from a public endorsement of the DREAM Act, urging that undocumented students would enhance multiculturalism on campus.

In its wording the DREAM Act is not a form of amnesty, but rather a bipartisan-supported aid for minors – not adults – who have earned their right to a US education. In light of these points, they argued, the bill is very much in line with Macalester’s values of “internationalism, multiculturalism, service to society and academic excellence” and would be a positive step for the school. Adelante! has been making presentations to classes on campus about the Dare to DREAM campaign since it began. This has resulted in letters and over 200 signatures of support. Rosenberg and faculty from the Hispanic Studies, Latin American Studies and Educational Studies departments were among those who signed or sent letters.

“This support is helping prove the case to the SRC because it is tangible proof that the Macalester community finds this issue relevant and something that is worth supporting,” Cardona said.

Adelante! has also felt significant backing from Rosenberg, especially since his private endorsement.

“[Rosenberg’s] support kept our campaign moving in the right direction and we are very fortunate to have a president that is willing to talk to the student body and listen to our passion,” Cardona said.

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