Students Refocus on DREAM Act
Published: Thursday, February 23, 2012
Updated: Friday, February 24, 2012 03:02
The number 65,000, plastered on fl yers around campus, has caught students' attention, but the population it represents — the number of undocumented immigrant students who graduate from U.S. high schools each year — often goes unnoticed.
The posters were put up by members of Hoyas for Immigrant Rights, a student group formed three weeks ago to address issues facing the immigrant community at Georgetown. In particular, the group hopes to advocate for the DREAM Act, a bill that would provide conditional permanent residency to certain undocumented immigrants who wish to pursue higher education or military service in the United States.
The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, which was fi rst introduced in August 2001, was voted down in the U.S. Senate in 2010 but reintroduced in May.
"After the last vote, the movement went downhill; people got discouraged," club co-founder Francisco Gutierrez (MSB '13) said. "It's been regaining momentum, and it will go up for the vote again next year."
The organization hopes to restart discussion about the act on the Hilltop as well.
"We're all interested in pushing for the DREAM Act," co-founder Kim Maima (SFS '15) said. "We want [immigrants] to have the same opportunities we do, regardless of their status. We also want to move beyond the DREAM Act to other things, like having a safe space for them to talk about the challenges they face."
Gutierrez emphasized that immigration issues affect African and Asian immigrant communities as well as Hispanic ones.
"We want to address diversity within the immigrant community," he said. "We're creating a support group for students and creating resources."
According to Gutierrez, the new organization has 15 to 20 members, including students and supportive faculty. He added that the group is currently reaching out to more professors and Jesuits.
Georgetown, particularly University President John J. DeGioia, has been a long-standing supporter of the DREAM Act.
DeGioia submitted testimony to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security in June, while the university has also drafted letters of support and lobbied for the act on Capitol Hill.
"At every level, we have weighed in to make clear the importance of this legislation to the university's mission of ensuring that DREAM Act students who have gained from a university education, here at Georgetown and elsewhere, are able to put their talents to work to strengthen the U.S. economy," Director of Media Relations Rachel Pugh wrote in an email.
Hoyas for Immigrant Rights will be holding a discussion panel on how being an undocumented immigrant affects life at Georgetown Monday.
"It's not just to support the undocumented students," Lisa Frank (COL '13) said. "It's to let everybody know what's going on."