Opening The Door To The DREAMers
"Imagine growing up with your classmates from elementary school through high school with the dream of one day going to college, only to discover that you are in fact an undocumented immigrant. This is an unfortunate reality for many students across the country who have plans to enroll in college, but cannot afford to because their immigration status prevents them receiving financial aid," Eugene J. Cornacchia, president of Saint Peters University, writes in The Huffington Post's The Blog. "The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act or DREAM Act is bipartisan legislation that seeks to address the struggles faced by students who were raised in the United States and attended school in this country, but are not afforded the same opportunities as other young people because of their parents' immigration status. If their parents are undocumented, these students have no way to obtain legal residency. The challenge for higher education is that we often find that a fair number of our students arrive at our institutions with a passionate desire to get a college education; however their immigration status prevents them from receiving federal, and in most cases, state financial aid. This makes obtaining a college degree financially beyond their reach. These DREAMers simply want a chance to achieve what so many other Americans dream of achieving: a college degree, a good career and the personal satisfaction that comes from obtaining a college degree. ... At Saint Peter's, we are fortunate to have a vibrant community that is enriched by young people from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds. Indeed, as the only Catholic and Jesuit University in New Jersey, Saint Peter's is blessed to serve primarily first-generation college students of diverse backgrounds who wish to grow intellectually and become 'men and women with and for others.' This year several of our students attended a Jesuit university outreach effort in Washington, D.C. and met with members of Congress to discuss the life and impact of DREAMers on our campus. This resulted in those students forming a group on campus that meets monthly to discuss immigration reform efforts and challenges. Regardless of one's political or religious affiliation, immigration reform is an important issue - economically, socially and ethically. I am proud of the efforts and the passion of our students, staff and faculty members on this issue. As the president of a private university, I strongly support opening the door to federal and state financial aid programs for the DREAMers. Although many of these students would be likely to enroll in public institutions due to financial constraints, I would like to see as many DREAMers as possible on the Saint Peter's campus. It is essential to provide them with the opportunity for a college education. It is the right thing to do. It is the just thing to do. It is the Christian thing to do."
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