SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WBBM) – The state Senate has passed the DREAM Act, which would put those young people within reach of such programs as College Illinois, allowing them to save for their higher education.
The bill is written in such a way that it applies to those who qualify to pay in-state tuition, though it grants no new privileges to children of citizens or documented immigrants.
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State Senate President John Cullerton (D-Ill.) sponsored the bill. During debate Wednesday, he faced tough questions from state Sen. Chris Lauzen (R-Aurora) about the use of taxpayer expenses.
“Isn’t it true that there are some folks who are turned away from the state universities because there’s a limited capacity?” Lauzen asked.
“Senator, I think you’re debating a different bill. That would be a bill you might want to advance to say that these children cannot apply to the university,” Cullerton replied.
The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights says passage of a federal DREAM Act 10 years ago could have helped 95,000 Illinoisans by now.
Supporters of the idea say while many still take a dim view of illegal immigrants, most children are powerless to stop their parents from moving them into a new country, regardless of the circumstances.
SB 2185 has passed the Senate, 45-11. Eleven Senate Republicans voted in favor of it.
The bill now goes to the state House of Representatives.