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DREAM Week of Action Kicks Off!
A National DREAM Week of Action kicks off today! Students across 16 other states are organizing in support of the Federal DREAM Act, a piece of legislation that would provide a pathway to legalization for U.S.-educated undocumented students.
Every year, 65,000 undocumented students graduate from U.S. high schools, but these students face serious barriers to higher education. First, they are not eligible to receive any state or federal financial aid; this includes work-study and student loans. Basically, these students and their families have to pay dollar-for-dollar what it costs to attend an institution of higher learning. So what, you say?
Undocumented students and their families DO PAY TAXES! They pay sales tax on everything they buy, they pay property tax on anything they own, and they pay income tax. Ironically, the IRS does hand out what is called an "ITIN" number to enable folks to pay income taxes even if they are not eligible for work in the U.S.
The second issue is what happens after graduation. Those exceptional students who do make it through school and graduate with a degree, can not put their degree to use or obtain a job if they have no legal status. Worst of all, there is oftentimes no legal pathway for them to even obtain legal status.
The Federal D.R.E.A.M. Act would grant qualified undocumented students a pathway to legalization. These students would have to meet the following criteria:
1) Go to a U.S. high school for at least 3 years and graduate or obtain equivalent GED
2) Have entered the country before the age of 16 and live here consecutively for the past 5 years
3) Demonstrate they have "good moral character" (i.e. no criminal record)
4) Enroll in an institute of higher learning or enlist in the armed services
If the student meets this criteria, they are granted six years temporary legal status. This means they do not have to worry about getting deported, they will have access (possibly) to work-study and student loans, and they can apply after the six year temporary period for legal permanent residency.
By no means is this a "quick fix" and it certainly doesn't fix our broken immigration system, but it does allow undocumented students equal access to pursue higher education and be able to incorporate into our society.
This week, students at UC Santa Cruz have organized the following events:
TEACH IN: UNDOCUMENTED STUDENT STRUGGLES FOR HIGHER EDUCATION
Wednesday, 2/24 from 7-9pm, Oakes Rm. 105
PAN DULCE FRIDAY FILM: Short Films on AB540 and Undocumented Student Stories
Friday, 2/26 from 12-1:30pm, Cervantes/Velasquez Conference Room
Free pan dulce (sweet bread) and drinks!
For more information, click on the link.