California Dream Act passes

On Saturday, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 131, the second bill of the two-part California Dream Act, allowing undocumented immigrant students to apply for state-funded financial aid for college, the Huffington Post reports. In July, Brown signed AB 130, making funding from private sources available to undocumented students. With Saturday’s signing of AB 131, the California Dream Act passed in its entirety, granting undocumented students access to public and private funding for college…

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Rahm Emanuel, Arne Duncan trumpet DREAM Act despite political barriers

Despite the DREAM Act’s low likelihood for Senate passage, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called for a renewed awareness of the plight of undocumented students in advance of the measure’s first senate hearing this Tuesday, reports the Huffington Post.

“We just need the human potential, the tremendous capacity, to contribute to society, to contribute to our economy,” Duncan said. “As a country, we have to do the right thing for our young people and for the nation.”

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After a false dawn, anxiety for illegal immigrant students

It was exhilarating for Maricela Aguilar to stand on the steps of the federal courthouse one day last summer and reveal for the first time in public that she is an illegal immigrant.

 “It’s all about losing that shame of who you are,” Ms. Aguilar, a college student who was born in Mexico but has lived in the United States without legal documents since she was 3 years old, said of her “coming out” at a rally in June.

Those were heady times for thousands of immigrant students who declared their illegal status during a nationwide campaign for a bill in Congress that would have put them on a path to legal residence. In December that bill, known as the Dream Act, passed the House, then failed in the Senate, reports the New York Times. President Obama insisted in his State of the Union address and in interviews that he wanted to try again on the bill this year. But with Republicans who vehemently oppose the legislation holding crucial committee positions in the new House, even optimists like Ms. Aguilar believe its chances are poor to none in the next two years. That leaves students like her who might have benefited from the bill–an estimated 1.2 million nationwide–in a legal twilight……Read More

Immigration vote leaves Obama’s policy in disarray

The vote by the Senate on Saturday to block a bill to grant legal status to hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrant students was a painful setback to an emerging movement of immigrants and also appeared to leave the immigration policy of the Obama administration, which has supported the bill and the movement, in disarray, reports the New York Times. The bill, known as the Dream Act, gained 55 votes in favor with 41 against, a tally short of the 60 votes needed to bring it to the floor for debate. Five Democrats broke ranks to vote against the bill, while only three Republicans voted for it. The defeat in the Senate came after the House of Representatives passed the bill last week. The result, although not unexpected, was still a rebuff to President Obama by newly empowered Republicans in Congress on an issue he has called one of his priorities. Supporters believed that the bill–tailored to benefit only immigrants who were brought here illegally when they were children and hoped to attend college or enlist in the military–was the easiest piece to pass out of a larger overhaul of immigration laws that Mr. Obama supports. His administration has pursued a two-sided policy, coupling tough enforcement–producing a record number of about 390,000 deportations this year–with an effort to pass the overhaul, which would open a path to legal status for an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants. Now, with less hope for any legalization measures once Republicans take over the House in January, the administration is left with just the stick. Part of the administration’s strategy has been to ramp up border and workplace enforcement to attract Republican votes for the overhaul. The vote on Saturday made it clear that strategy has not succeeded so far…

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