About 50 Cal Poly students marched and chanted through campus Thursday to draw attention to a federal bill that would help undocumented students along a path to citizenship and create opportunities for them to earn college degrees.
The rally in support of the DREAM Act was hosted by the M.E.X.A. club on campus — which encourages community building and political activism among Hispanic students.
Two of the event’s coordinators, Daniella Castro and Denise Lopez, said they hope the legislation introduced about a year ago will be enacted.
The bill — which was reintroduced in Congress after a similar bill stalled — must go to committees that deliberate, investigate and revise them before they go to general debate and potential voting.
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The DREAM Act would give undocumented students a chance to attend college in the U.S. or serve in the military under conditional permanent residency status within a six-year period.
Participants then could apply for permanent legal residency upon completion of their education or military service.
A lack of opportunity after high school has affected undocumented young people they know, including friends and family, student organizers said.
“One of our concerns is that kids are punished for a choice they didn’t make to come here,” Castro said. “We need to keep undocumented students in school and out of trouble.”
The DREAM Act would apply to graduates of U.S. high schools who arrived in the U.S. as minors and have been in the country at least five years.
Eligible students wouldn’t be allowed to apply for federal loans or work study in college under the act.
Those who don’t meet the requirements risk losing their new residency status; those convicted of crimes risk deportation.
“It has been an ongoing battle to keep the DREAM Act alive, and we want to keep people aware of it and keep it going,” Lopez said.