Senate passes over the DREAM Act

Since the Senate voted it down, the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors, or DREAM Act, which would provide temporary residency to undocumented college students, has been under great discussion. Students of various ethnicities logged in and followed along to a webinar about undocumented students and immigrants in the Illini Union on Wednesday afternoon.

The event was hosted by the Latino & Asian Pacific Islander Interests Knowledge Communities. The DREAM Act, a proposed piece of legislation, failed to pass in the Senate on Monday to become an amendment of the defense authorization bill.

Susana Munoz, a lecturer from Iowa State University, was the first to give her speech about immigrants and their impact on the classroom’s setting.

“I’m saddened by the actions which took place yesterday,” Munoz said.

Munoz, whose research primarily deals with the treatment of Latino women, presented background information on undocumented students.

“A lot of the time, they have to lie about their identities,” Munoz said about the role of immigrants in the classroom.

Munoz said undocumented students look to culture and family for support.

Angela Chen, graduate student from the University of California at Los Angeles, discussed how students must create relationships between distinct social groups, such as undocumented students, community partners and practitioner allies. These groups, she added, must work together for improvement.

“What brings them together is their collective goals,” Chen said.

These goals include educational equality, legislative reform, raising awareness and developing resources.

Rebecca Nelson, director of the Multicultural Center at The Ohio State University, discussed working towards developing a system for public institutions to integrate undocumented students.

“This piece of legislation is very important,” Nelson said.

However, Nelson said faith-based groups are starting to become leaders in the conversation on undocumented students. Building momentum and awareness is also a vital component to help the bill, Nelson added.

A unique characteristic of Wednesday’s presentation was the virtual format: the webinar acts as an advanced conference call. Computers from all over the country logged in to watch and listen to presentations from various professors who gave their opinions and research findings on The DREAM Act and related issues involving immigration.

As students listened to a speaker placed in the front of the room, a PowerPoint slideshow projected on a large, centrally located screen accompanied each speaker.

Although The DREAM Act was unsuccessful in the Senate, efforts are still being made around the country to push for approval. At the collegiate level, institutions such as George Fox University, are making social security numbers an optional part of the application process, said Joel Perez, dean of transitions and inclusion at George Fox University.

As a way to help spread awareness, several other seminars and webinars regarding The DREAM Act will be held in the upcoming weeks in universities across the nation. These presentations will primarily focus on what steps need to be taken for the bill to be accepted.