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Student Advocacy Brings Endorsement of “DREAM” Act

By Jeffrey Lott

At a Debating for Democracy conference sponsored by Project Pericles in April, an original letter by Jovanna Hernandez ’13 in support of the Development, Relief, and Education Minors Act (DREAM) was a finalist in a letter-writing competition. Hernandez brought Swarthmore a $500 award to be used for advocacy and education projects including lobbying for the passage of legislation.

The goal of the conference was to encourage college students to conceptualize practical solutions that address significant public policy issues. The Swarthmore team advocated for 20 minutes before former U.S. Senators Bob Kerrey and Harris Wofford.

In a May 3 letter to Pennsylvania Senators Arlen Specter and Bob Casey and to Congressman Joe Sestak, President Rebecca Chopp urged the passage of the DREAM Act, which would permit undocumented immigrant students who entered the United States before age 16 to enter college and the military and to qualify for low-interest student loans, grants, and federal work-study opportunities. “In addition to the moral imperative to help all deserving young people reach their full potential, the bill offers a practical benefit,” Chopp wrote. “The DREAM Act extends our country’s investment in these young people since they have already received primary and secondary education through our public schools.”

The legislation would provide “conditional residency” to undocumented immigrants who are high-school graduates and have lived in this country for at least five years. Upon completion of an associate’s or bachelor’s degree or after two years of military service, the student will be able to petition to become a U.S. citizen. In a message to the campus community, Chopp said, “A number of our students have been passionately advocating on behalf of this bill, and I am pleased to support them in their efforts.”

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