Photo: Illinois DREAM Act
Tuesday, the Illinois DREAM Act (SB2185), legislation that would offer undocumented youth better access to higher education, passed in the Illinois House of Representatives on a bipartisan 60-54 vote. SB 2185, sponsored in the House by Rep. Edward Acevedo, has the support of Cardinal George, 15 university presidents, and hundreds of other faith leaders, business leaders, and community organizations.
“Today’s bipartisan vote in the Illinois House is truly historic,” said Lawrence Benito, deputy director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), who led the effort to win approval of the bill in the General Assembly. “This vote is a victory for our state and an important step forward in recognizing the contributions of immigrants.”
The Illinois DREAM Act will establish a privately-funded Illinois DREAM Fund, administered by a volunteer state commission, to make scholarships available to children of immigrants who graduate from Illinois high schools. It will also enable high school counselors and college admissions officers to be fully informed regarding educational opportunities for immigrant youth. The Illinois DREAM Act will impose no costs on Illinois taxpayers.
After the federal DREAM Act failed in Congress last year, ICIRR, along with the Immigrant Youth Justice League (IYJL), member organizations, and allies, have worked to build broad support from religious and civic leaders, university presidents, and community organizations for the Illinois DREAM Act. Today, those efforts paid off, showing that Illinois is not only an immigrant-friendly state but also a national leader on moving fair, humane, and practical solutions forward.
The passage of this bill also shows the growing political power of immigrant communities. With the new Census numbers showing the increase of Asian and Latinos in the suburbs, the issues affecting these communities are being taken seriously by elected officials. This vote is very important for Latinos, immigrants, and their supporters, who will remember this vote in 2012.
ICIRR thanks Rep. Acevedo for his tireless work in getting the votes needed from both sides of the aisle to make the dreams of immigrant youth a reality. We also thank Senate President John Cullerton, the lead sponsor in the Senate, Speaker of the House Michael Madigan for truly supporting and getting the votes needed to pass this bill, and the Republican legislators who moved away from partisanship and towards solutions that will benefit our entire state.
We also thank Cardinal George and the other religious leaders as well as the 15 university presidents who lent their support, which had a powerful impact in winning over additional votes.
ICIRR also thanks Senator Richard Durbin for his leadership on this issue and Mayor Rahm Emanuel for standing with us in support of immigrants and undocumented youth.
The passage of SB 2185 adds to the list of victories that ICIRR has achieved in the past few months, including the termination of the Secure Communities program in Illinois and the creation of redistricting maps that will better reflect the diversity of our state and enable better representation for immigrant communities.
SB 2185 now moves to the desk of Governor Quinn, who will sign the bill as early as next week. ICIRR will celebrate the passage of the Illinois DREAM Act at its 25th anniversary that will take place on June 2nd at Galleria Marchetti (825 W. Erie St., Chicago) at 6pm.
The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights is a state wide coalition of 138 organizations dedicated to promoting the rights of immigrants and refugees to full and equal participation in the civic, cultural, social, and political life of our diverse society.