BOSTON/Chinatown - Student Immigrant Movement organizers and supporters held a press conference at the encuentro 5 movement space last Wednesday to announce their participation in a national campaign to push for passage of the DREAM Act - a bipartisan bill that would grant some undocumented immigrant students conditional legal status and a path to citizenship. Currently, students of undocumented immigrant parents in many states - including Massachusetts - are not eligible for government financial aid or in-state tuition rates at state colleges. Even if they excelled in public K-12 schools.
Speakers at the event announced that 5 SIM members were already in front of the Capitol building in Washington and taking classes at the outdoor "DREAM University" - a combination protest and school organized by the national United We Dream Network - that will be held all summer. Participants will not be required to demonstrate citizenship status in order to attend free lectures by academics, organizers and other "thought leaders."
David Ribeiro of SIM commented on the national action in light of SIM's recent successful 18-day Mass. State House vigil against anti-immigrant Senate amendments to the 2011 state budget, "This is bigger than the vigil, this is bigger than anything we've done before. We have been denied equal and just access to education, and we can't wait any longer. We will make our own school, a university founded on the principle that expanding the right to higher education to all in this country - regardless of nation, creed, or status - is long overdue."
A busload of SIM activists left for Washington this evening to join their fellow organizers at DREAM University. Ribeiro indicated they are in the fight for the long haul, "We will stay there as long as it takes. This is about more than just immigration status. We are students working for education and equality. We've been here all our lives, we've worked hard, and we're constantly told 'no.' But we will continue. We will build our own university. And we will never give up."