WBEZ | undocumented immigrant http://www.wbez.org/tags/undocumented-immigrant Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en House panel OKs scholarships for undocumented immigrants http://www.wbez.org/story/house-panel-oks-scholarships-undocumented-immigrants-86992 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-May/2011-05-24/Dreamers3.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>An Illinois bill that could help tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants attend college is a step closer to becoming law.<br> <br> A state House of Representatives committee voted Tuesday afternoon for the Illinois Dream Act, which would set up scholarships for the students. The vote could lead to a House floor debate as early as Wednesday. Governor Pat Quinn says he would sign the measure into law.<br> <br> The bill would create a commission to raise money for the scholarships — all privately funded — and award them to students who arrived in the country before age 16. The legislation would also allow children of immigrants to join state-run college savings programs and would require high-school counselors to make students aware of the scholarships and the savings programs.<br> <br> The state Senate passed the bill 45-11 on May 4. Eleven of the votes for the legislation came from Republicans.<br> <br> House Speaker Michael Madigan, who supports the measure, then referred it to his chamber’s Executive Committee, which passed it Tuesday along party lines, 7-4.<br> <br> The Executive Committee members who voted against the bill included Assistant House Republican Leader Dan Brady of Bloomington. Brady told WBEZ afterwards he was concerned that the Illinois Student Assistance Commission would play a role. That agency runs a troubled pre-paid tuition program. “There’s legislation calling for an internal audit” of the commission, Brady said. “And so before we create something else, I’d like to see what happened — what the audit shows.”<br> <br> Brady said he had a second problem with the bill: “Certainly we want to try to assist [undocumented students] in their education but, on the other hand, I don’t think it should be at the expense of other students — citizens — who may lose the ability to have a seat at one of our universities across the state.”<br> <br> The bill’s supporters don’t deny that it would increase competition among potential college students. “But Illinois has already invested a lot to get the undocumented students through high school,” said Lawrence Benito, deputy director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. “The state also benefits when potential college students are judged on academic merit, not whether they can pay.”<br> <br> Republicans are getting an earful from Tea Party activists upset about the Senate vote and convinced the bill would lure illegal immigrants to Illinois.<br> <br> But immigrant advocates are warning the lawmakers to keep other constituents in mind. “Look at the demographic changes in some of these suburban swing districts,” Benito said. “There are 640,000 U.S. citizen children of immigrants [in Illinois]. Of these children, 70,000 will turn 18 by 2012. They’re going to remember. This is an important issue to the Latino immigrant community.”<br> <br> The Illinois measure has no relation to a federal bill, also called the Dream Act, which would lay a path to citizenship for undocumented students. That measure has stalled repeatedly over the last decade. U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, reintroduced it this month.</p></p> Tue, 24 May 2011 22:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/house-panel-oks-scholarships-undocumented-immigrants-86992 Emanuel backs scholarships for undocumented immigrants http://www.wbez.org/story/emanuel-backs-scholarships-undocumented-immigrants-86532 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-May/2011-05-13/Emanuel3.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago’s most powerful politicians are lining up behind Illinois and federal bills that would give some undocumented immigrants a boost.<br> <br> Both measures are known as the DREAM Act. The Illinois version, approved by the state Senate last week, would set up privately funded scholarships for undocumented college students who grew up in this country.<br> <br> The federal version would lay a path to citizenship for the students. That measure has stalled repeatedly over the last decade, but U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, reintroduced it Wednesday.<br> <br> Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle voiced support for the bills Friday afternoon at downtown Chicago offices of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.<br> <br> So did Chicago Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel, who said the Illinois version would serve the state’s interests. Emanuel said those included “giving children of undocumented immigrants a chance at an education and, most important, with that education a chance at the American dream.”<br> <br> In the past, Emanuel has disappointed immigrant-rights leaders. His support for the Illinois DREAM Act could warm his relations with them.<br> <br> The state Senate vote was 45-11. In the House, Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, is backing the bill. Gov. Pat Quinn has said he would sign it into law.<br> <br> Some of the bill’s Republican supporters, meanwhile, are hearing from constituents who confuse it with the federal version or say the scholarships would lure more illegal immigrants to Illinois.<br> <br> Prospects for the federal bill appear bleak. In December, when Democrats controlled the U.S. House, the measure narrowly passed that chamber. Now Republicans have taken over the House and increased their numbers in the Senate.</p></p> Fri, 13 May 2011 22:47:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/emanuel-backs-scholarships-undocumented-immigrants-86532