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Students and Legislators Pursuing their DREAM

March 15, 2011

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - High school and college students - both native-born and undocumented immigrants - held a rally in New Haven leading up to today's public hearing at the General Assembly (state legislature) on whether to pass a state version of the DREAM Act. It would allow undocumented high school graduates to pay in-state tuition at Connecticut's public colleges, if they graduate after four years of high school.

Lucas Codognolla, who came here from Brazil, says passage of the DREAM Act means much more than getting an affordable education.

"It means making my parents proud that I continue their dream of higher education. It means I don't have to work three different part-time jobs trying to afford community college."

State Senator Martin Looney, a Democrat from New Haven and the son of Irish immigrants, is the main sponsor of the bill. He says some opponents have incorrectly characterized the bill as a financial giveaway.

"It would not mean they would be eligible for financial aid or any other benefits, but they would be treated as in-state students for tuition purposes."

Marina Keegan, a student at Yale and one of the rally organizers, talked about the need for solidarity.

"Students in Connecticut and across the country need to band together to stand up for the rights of all students, and the rights of equal opportunity for every student in this country."

Legislators who oppose the bill say it would take away places in colleges from citizens and legal immigrants. They also suggest that people who are in this country illegally cannot be hired for jobs, even after earning their degrees.

Melinda Tuhus, Public News Service - CT