Update: The Illinois Dream Act was signed into law by Governor Pat Quinn on Monday August 1st, 2011. The ceremony took place in Chicago’s Benito Juarez High School, on the anniversary of the introduction of the federal legislation, also known as the DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act.
This legislation makes Illinois the first state in the country to create a private scholarship fund for undocumented youth. It also eases the path to higher education for undocumented youth, 65% of whom come from households that earn 200% under the poverty line. The passage of the bill is an incredible victory that lays the foundation for other states to follow.
What will the IL DREAM Act do?
- Allows anyone with a taxpayer number, including undocumented students, to participate in the State Treasurer’s College Savings Pool and the Illinois Prepaid Tuition Plan. These programs allow families of Dream youths to plan ahead and invest and save for their children’s college education.
- High school college counselors are required to be better trained and prepared to know what college options are available for undocumented students and children of immigrants. This will ensure that undocumented students will receive correct information about opportunities available to them after high school. These trainings will be incorporated into existing trainings for counselors.
- Requires the IL Student Assistance Commission to establish an Illinois DREAM Fund Commission administered by volunteers of the State appointed by Governor Quinn. The IL DREAM Fund Commission will establish scholarships for qualified undocumented students. The scholarships will be funded entirely by private donors and contributions.
In order to qualify for the benefits of the IL dream act, you must:
- Have resided with parents or guardians while attending high school in Illinois;
- Have attended a high school in Illinois for at least 3 years from the time of graduation or receiving the equivalent of a high school diploma (such as GED);
- Have at least one parent who immigrated to the United States.
As of the date this blog was published, the IL Dream Act is not yet law. Once Governor Quinn signs the act into a law, he will appoint, with consent of the Senate, 9 members from diverse ethnic and geographic backgrounds to be responsible for administering the Dream Fund. The administrators’ responsibilities include raising funds for scholarships, selecting recipients of the scholarships, making sure everything in the Illinois Dream Act is implemented, and researching DREAM youths’ needs and progress through college.
Editor’s Note: Please keep in mind that this bill is different from the Federal DREAM Act, particularly in that it does NOT provide a path for legalization for undocumented youth. As IYJL we are still working on this, but see the IL dream act as a step towards getting full rights for undocumented immigrants.