H-SANTA MARIA

Dec 9, 2010 9:41 PM by Ariel Wesler

Locals speak out on controversial Dream Act

Democrats have delayed a vote on controversial legislation that would pave the way to citizenship for many young illegal immigrants.

It's called the Dream Act. It would grant citizenship to illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. before the age of 16, if they enroll in college or join the military. The house passed the bill yesterday, but it lacks enough support right now from Republicans in the Senate.

Close to 40 students from Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria made the trek up to San Francisco last week. They marched with students from throughout California in support of the Dream Act.

"The United States is the land of opportunity, so why wouldn't we give that opportunity?" said ASBG President Eddie Triste.

Triste was on that trip and said it was motivating.

"You're here to learn? Well, we welcome that. You're not out there doing anything in the streets," Triste said.

He says education should be a right for all people, regardless of background.

"An educated populous, an educated youth is more contributing to society than if we let them go," Triste said.

"Those students which are foreign nationals will be competing for jobs in California against our legal American citizens," said Minutemen Member Paula James.

She says the Act would put an unfair burden on taxpayers.

I'm sorry that the parents broke the law, but it's not the American children's fault. It's the federal government's fault that they've let this go on," James said.

She and other critics say the act opens the door to fraud and puts the interests of illegal immigrants ahead of law-abiding citizens.

"You can buy a diploma for 150 dollars online," James said.

With a decision still on the horizon, supporters will have to wait to see if their Dream Act comes true.

Democrats say they'll try again after the Senate acts on funding the government and extending tax cuts. Republicans have said they won't consider any other legislation until those issues are addressed.

Eight Republicans joined in approving the house bill, 216 to 198. 38 democrats voted "No".

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