DREAM Act students face off in classroom

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Nataly Tavidian/KPCC

Undocumented students and supporters rally at the Roybal Learning Center in Los Angeles, Sept. 20, 2010, in favor of the DREAM Act (Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act), a piece of proposed federal legislation that would create a pathway to citizenship.

One contentious point in the debate over the federal DREAM Act is whether undocumented adults pay income taxes as U.S. citizens do.

One Glendale Community College student says he doubts it, so he’s against an immigration reform bill that would extend federal aid and other benefits to undocumented students.

Political science professor John Queen gave members of the on-campus DREAM Act club a few minutes to share their stories with his class.

“So, we’re just asking you guys to support the DREAM Act," Rocio Garcia said. “I have dreams of becoming a doctor. I’m a pre-med student and a psychology major.”

Joshua Ward sat at the desk in front of her.

“I’m not in support of this. Because, I am a legal United States citizen. I pay my taxes. My dad pays his taxes," Ward said. "I feel like we spend too much money harboring illegal immigrants."

Ward singled out equal-opportunity welfare benefits as a broken-down model he doesn’t want to see repeated with college financial aid for undocumented students.

“Illegals pay taxes," Garcia said. "That is a huge misconception.”

Garcia said her parents pay income taxes and have never received tax returns because of their immigration status. Several other club members also shared their stories.

If U.S. Senators pass the DREAM Act, it would offer a conditional path to citizenship through college graduation or military service for as many as 60,000 undocumented young people nationwide. Opponents say it should be part of a comprehensive immigration bill - not a provision of a defense spending proposal.

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