Looking forward to educational opportunities: The dreamers have a place at Kean
By Sonia Aquije
The Dream Act signed this past month by Governor Christie in Union City, New Jersey is a big stepping stone for all undocumented students. Although, it has been met with challenges it has attained enough public support from both republicans and democrats alike.
The Dream Act is a bipartisan legislation that was first introduced in 2001, since 16 states have passed laws providing the chance for undocumented students to qualify for higher education. On Jan. 16, 2014 Senator Patty Murray and Congressman Jared Polis confirmed their support for in State Tuition Equity (IN-STATE) in an effort to give the undocumented students the ability to pay for higher education at an in state tuition rate. Senator Murray believes every student living in the United States should have the same opportunity to attain an education.
“All qualified students should have the same opportunities to get a college degree, regardless of their immigration status,” said Murray according to, murray.senate.gov. “Undocumented students are no different than their classmates.”
First Focus Campaign for Children is a bipartisan advocacy organization with a mission to serve children and families through federal policy, budget decisions and surveyed public support for the Dream Act which resulted in an overall positive approval rate with a little more than half strongly favorable.
According to the The National Immigration Law Center, the requirements to qualify for The Dream Act for undocumented immigrants is to attend an in-state school for a certain number of years, graduated from high school in that state and have signed an affidavit stating that they have either applied to legalize their status or will do so as soon as eligible.
For many students on the verge of graduating high school it is a harsh reminder that being undocumented means not attending college. However, universities like Kean offer a Spanish-Speaking program that was established in 1972 that enables its students to reach their highest potential with their limited English proficiency.
Danny Torres, a senior international business major and one of the peer counselors of the Spanish-Speaking program, is optimistic about the English as second language students.
“This program is really helpful because it’s a one of a kind program; students take classes both in Spanish and in English,” said Torres. “The admission into the program requires a GPA of 2.8 doesn’t require SAT scores and they’re assigned advisors as well peer counselors to guide them.”
Torres supports the Dream Act in New Jersey.
“I think that it will help them because now they have the choice of going to college and paying in-state instead of out-of-state-tuition,” said Torres. “I know it’s going to be hard for them but they have the opportunity to attend college now and not be afraid to apply.”
Students like Shantal Villlagomez, a freshman sociology major, is part of the Spanish-Speaking Program at Kean and can relate to the challenges faced by undocumented students. She fully supports the Dream Act being signed in New Jersey.
“Equality should be given to every student who desires to continue their education,” said Villagomez. “I believe the Dream Act being signed in New Jersey is the most idealistic of ways that gives those the opportunity of equality and enables them to become better every day.”
As someone who moved from Ecuador to America she values what America offers.
“By just giving those students the chance of having equal rights compared to those born in America would benefit them enough that they won’t have to worry about their legal status,” said Villagomez. “I realized there were so many educational opportunities here compared to my country.”