Chicago hosts Illinois DREAM Act rally

Illinois DREAM Act supporters gathered in Chicago Saturday at a local church for a rally promoting rights for undocumented individuals.

People gathered at St. Nicholas of Tolentine Church at 11 a.m. for the event. Several high-profile speakers attended, including House Speaker Michael Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton and University president Michael Hogan. La Colectiva, a Registered Student Organization on campus, also traveled to the rally to show their support.

The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, or “DREAM Act”:, is a piece of legislation meant to give undocumented students a pathway to citizenship.

The act failed on a federal level last December, but the Illinois DREAM Act will be put to a vote May 4.

Alec Albor, freshman in DGS, is the secretary for Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan, a student organization involved with assisting minority communities. He said the organization stands in solidarity with La Colectiva.

“Particularly on campus, they (La Colectiva) have been taking the lead on undocumented youth issues,” Albor said.

Albor said that though undocumented students do not have the proper papers to gain citizenship, they were brought here as children for the sake of a better life and for a better education.

“This country is not their birthplace, but it’s their home,” Albor said.

Shikhank Sharma, member of La Colectiva and junior in LAS, said he supports the Illinois DREAM Act and the DREAM scholarship, a privatized fund to help undocumented students pay for tuition.

With the vote coming up, Sharma said he wants to raise more awareness about the issue.

“I really hope (La Colectiva) is able to mobilize people who can actually go to Springfield and be there when the bill’s on the floor,” he said. “Our administration recently has been a lot more proactive.”

At the rally, Hogan, with other university presidents, spoke about the importance of the Illinois DREAM Act.

“The Illinois DREAM Act is a step in the right direction,” Hogan said.

“Our University should educate the best and brightest, and no student should be denied because of outdated immigration laws.”

He added that it should not be this hard to achieve that dream in this country.

Along with university presidents, state senators also spoke to the students and families about the Illinois DREAM Act.

“Everybody in America came from somewhere else,” said House Speaker Michael Madigan.

He said if everyone works together, the “one nation, one dream” platform for the act will be fulfilled.

Jose Sanchez, president of La Colectiva and junior in LAS, said he attended the rally because he wanted to make sure there is full support for the act from politicians.

“We really want to hold these politicians accountable to make sure that they come through for us,” Sanchez said.

He added that the general perception of undocumented students is usually negative.

“Really what we have to get at is the fact that undocumented students contribute so much more because they’re an untapped resource,” he said.

The next step for La Colectiva will be to meet with Illinois state senators Michael Frerichs (D-52) and Naomi Jakobsson (D-103) to get support for the passing of the Illinois DREAM Act.