Leaders, family, friends and community members gathered in the auditorium of Benito Juarez Community Academy on August 1, 2011 to watch history unfold. For on this day Governor Pat Quinn would sign the Illinois DREAM ACT. The DREAM Act will allow undocumented students the opportunity to attend college or enlist into the military. The DREAM Act was created in the year 2000 by a Latino Activist group. Today, there is more funding available for undocumented students based on Illinois in-state tuition. Now eleven years later the state of Illinois has agreed to give deserving students the opportunity to thrive in higher education. Governor Quinn quotes “Education is the key to a successful democracy.”
Quinn continued to speak about the importance of passing the DREAM Act as part of furthering youth education in America. Many of his statements referenced President Abraham Lincoln, all of which were suitable for this event in his home state of Illinois. Governor Pat Quinn restated that Lincoln founded a country that was, “For the people, by the people and of the people.”
“The DREAM Act still needs to pass at the federal level”, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. “The DREAM Act is only an opportunity [and] we must now cease it.”
Although for many students in Illinois having the DREAM Act passed is in fact a dream come true. The dream was evident as youth leader Arianna S. delivered a heartfelt speech. Arianna is a high school senior who is undocumented. She once thought she would never be able to attend college, but today all that changed. She shared with the crowd just how grateful she and other undocumented students are for the chance to obtain a college degree. Arianna’s speech and personal testimony earned her a standing ovation.
The Illinois DREAM Act passed with 60 votes in the senate and 45 votes in the house. With such strong political support from congressmen and alderman alike the DREAM Act signing was truly a “A day of hope” says Juan Carlos Ocon, principal of Benito Juarez High School. A pertinent Congressman of Chicago also called the signed day of the DREAM Act an “Historic civil rights day.” Passing the DREAM Act not only changed the lives of many young adults in the auditorium, but it changed the views of the American education system. On this day social justice prevailed for education in America. Until now, Illinois is the only standing state to pass the DREAM Act in the country.
Wach speaker filled anticipation in the air as audience members awaited Quinn to pick up the pen and sign the bill. Quinn gave a few closing remarks regarding the future of the DREAM Act and a DREAM Act Scholarship that was underway. Shortly after his closing remarks he proceeded to a table near the podium. The chant “Si se puede!” began to ring out as Governor Quinn picked up one pen after another signing the bill. It was a phenomenal experience that would change history as we know it. For the state of Illinois, no longer will students think their hard work is going to waste after high school. They can say with confidence I will be attending college thanks to the DREAM Act. Governor Quinn gave a powerful quote when he referred to the DREAM Act, he said “Everybody in and nobody left out.” Something that can be shared by all from passing the Illinois DREAM Act is that our country is founded as “One Nation, One Dream.”