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Education

Ithaca College Professor Patricia Rodriguez on DREAM Act

Debate over a potential reform to the U.S. immigration policy has sparked new conversation nationally and at the state level. Ithaca Now spoke with Patricia Rodriguez, an Ithaca College politics professor, on what the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act could mean for undocumented students who are looking to earn a college degree in the United States. In the empire state, the New York Higher Education committee recently passed its own version of the DREAM Act. Next, the measure will go to the Ways and Means committee and then to the New York State Assembly.

Interview Highlights:

On New York’s version of the DREAM Act:

The New York version of the DREAM Act is basically opening up access to higher education and to programs and federal assistance so that undocumented immigrants who graduate from high school can actually be able to pay for college. Right now, that’s not possible. probably 4,500 undocumented students who graduate every year — only a low percentage of those students actually get to go to college because it’s very expensive and they can’t afford it.

Explain why the phrase “illegal aliens” hurts this group of people. 

“That is a term that is very commonly used and that basically discriminates. It’s a very discriminatory term for a group of people that are here not because they want to be here sometimes, but because that’s the only thing that they have. Based on “Harvest of Empire,” a lot of immigration that’s coming from Latin America to the U.S. is a result of U.S. policy not just not but also historically. The term blocks a real dialogue about the difficulties and the obstacles that immigrants go through and the fears and the hopes of many students that are the same as anyone.

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