¿Sí Se Puede? Illinois Dream Act Passes

| Mon Aug. 1, 2011 6:17 PM EDT

When Gov. Pat Quinn signed the Illinois Dream Act into law today, the Prairie State became the second state in a week to try to bring some financial relief to undocumented college students. Like California Assembly Bill 130, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last Monday, the Illinois Dream Act deals with scholarship money. Under the new law, named after the all-but-dead federal DREAM Act, the state will put together a committee to establish private grants for immigrant students who attended at least three years of high school in Illinois and also received their diplomas.

At the signing, which took place at Benito Juarez High School in Chicago's largely Latino Pilsen neighborhood, Quinn stuck to the basics of the debate, framing the bill as a question of access. "All children have the right to a first-class education," he said. "The Illinois Dream Act creates more opportunities for the children of immigrants to achieve a fulfilling career, brighter future, and better life through higher education." 

Even Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel—who once called immigration "the third rail of American politics" and was considered an obstacle to immigration reform during his tenure as White House chief of staff—got behind the legislation. "Immigrants are a driving force in our city's cultural and economic life, and opening the way for all Chicago students to earn an excellent higher education will make our city even stronger," he said in a press release. "I am proud that families and students across Illinois will now have a better shot at the American dream—which starts with a great education."

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