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File photo: Nelly Rodriguez (foreground), a student at Wichita High School in Wichita, Kansas, and originally from Mexico, participates in a mock graduation ceremony at the West Front of the U.S. Capitol April 20, 2004 in Washington, DC.
The Senate could vote on the DREAM Act next week. The measure would create a path to citizenship for college students and military personnel whose parents brought them to the U.S. illegally when they were children. Some local college students are hoping it’ll pass.
At their weekly meeting, DREAM Act students at L.A. Mission College in Sylmar say passage could change their college careers completely. Legal residency, the DREAM Act’s first step, would give them a chance to get financial aid through federal student loan programs. Most of them have part-time or full-time jobs to pay their way through school.
"Like $700 for books and fees," says Claudia Gomez, sophomore at Mission College. "But if I had that extra money, I wouldn’t have to work so much."
She says she works full-time for an insurance company and teaches dancing and swimming to pay for school – and support her family. Gomez wants to work in genetics. Dream Act supporters say there are about 65,000 undocumented students like her nationwide.
"Yes, I do think it’s fair," says Rochelle Taylor – fair that undocumented students can’t apply for the loans and grants that she and her college freshman daughter can apply for.
"Because the ones that are born here legally and live here should be priority to get those funds that are available."
Taylor is returning to college to become a respiratory therapist. Her daughter is studying computer science.
The DREAM Act has some bipartisan support. But some senators say it should be part of broader immigration reform – and not part of a defense spending bill.