Students rally for DREAM

The Yale College Democrats, MEChA de Yale and Connecticut Students for a DREAM drew 150 to City Hall on Saturday.
The Yale College Democrats, MEChA de Yale and Connecticut Students for a DREAM drew 150 to City Hall on Saturday. Photo by Kamaria Greenfield.

Over 150 people gathered at a rally in City Hall on Saturday in support of in-state tuition for undocumented college students.

The rally, which was organized by the Yale College Democrats, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA) de Yale and Connecticut Students for a DREAM, was in support of the Connecticut DREAM bill, an act to provide in-state tuition to undocumented students at the state’s public colleges. The rally featured speeches from Mayor John DeStefano Jr., U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal LAW ’73 and Majority Leader of the Connecticut Senate Martin Looney, along with personal accounts from four students who are illegal immigrants and are currently enrolled in colleges in the state. The rally organizers circulated petitions for the Connecticut DREAM Act within the crowd, which was composed of Yale students, students from other colleges and members of the general public.

“Today’s not about the legislation,” Blumenthal said. “Today is about the American Dream.”

Looney and Blumenthal both said that Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy has promised that he would sign the bill if it were brought to his desk. A similar bill was passed by the state legislature in 2007, but was then vetoed by Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who argued that the bill would encourage illegal immigration, and that the state should wait for federal immigration reform before enacting its own in-state tuition law. Ten states already have laws providing undocumented students with in-state tuition, while South Carolina is the only state with a law banning undocumented students from attending state colleges.

“Education was the way to success in America,” said Looney, adding that undocumented students are just as “American” as his grandson, who is a third-grade student.

Blumenthal said he has supported the DREAM Act for a long time, adding that he is “very hopeful and even optimistic” that the act will be passed.

‘UNDOCUMENTED AMERICANS, NOT ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS’

“When I was born, my parents happened to be sitting in the United States,” Marina Keegan ’12, president of the Yale College Democrats, said at the beginning of the rally. “I didn’t choose this myself, just like children whose parents immigrated here when they were very young had no choice.”

But some other students who spoke at the rally were not born in the U.S. — and did not enter the country legally.

Lucas Codognolla, who spoke at the rally and is a student at Norwalk Community College, came to Connecticut from Brazil in 2000.

“The DREAM means so much more than getting an education,” he said. “It means making my parents proud; it means I won’t have to work three jobs to pay for college; it means I’ll one day get to work in the non-profit sector.”

Codognolla said he was student body president at Westhill High School in Stamford, where he graduated in 2009 with a 3.6 grade-point average. While he said he was accepted to numerous colleges, including the University of Connecticut, they were too expensive for him to attend. He was also accepted to another college he chose not to name, which gave him a “full-ride” and then took it away after realizing he was an undocumented student.

Maria Praeli, who is a current junior at New Milford High School, said she has lived in Connecticut ever since her family came from Peru when she was five.

“All your life, your community tells you that you can,” she said. “You grow up thinking you’re invincible.”

But then, she said, she learned when she was 16 that she could not get a driver’s license or apply for a job. While all of her classmates were excited to apply to college, she said she realized she probably would not be able to afford higher education.

“Because of my illegal status, I feel defeated,” she said. “Being undocumented does not mean I won’t grow up to be someone.”

But Mariano Cardosa, a student at Capital Community College, is nearing the end of his education sooner than he thought.

Cardosa, who has lived in the U.S. since the age of 22 months since coming from Mexico and is now 22 years old, was just issued a voluntary 30-day departure. Though scheduled to graduate with a degree in engineering, Cardosa will be deported before he is able to finish.

“Nobody wants to be a wasted talent,” he said, adding that, “These are the streets I grew up in.”

STUDENTS FOR STUDENTS

“We want to show the state that it’s not just the undocumented student community who care about this,” said Keegan. “It’s all students in Connecticut.”

Keegan added that she expected that the students’ involvement would generate a greater effect on legislators when they see news of the rally.

Blumenthal said Saturday he was “inspired” by the dedication of the students in planning the rally.

But student efforts to help and defend the rights of undocumented students extend far beyond the rally.

“I’m taking a risk, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take,” Lorella Praeli, Maria Praeli’s sister who is a senior at Quinnipiac University and is also undocumented, said of her decision to speak out about her undocumented status. “Our history reflects that nothing changes without people working for it.”

Diana Enriquez ’13, a member of MEChA, said the organization has long been involved in supporting the Connecticut DREAM Act. She added that Jennifer Angarita ’10, who was moderator of the organization last year, attempted to create a group called Yalies for a DREAM, which she said never truly “took off.”

Enriquez said that MEChA has worked extensively to assist the undocumented students currently studying at Yale. She added that the group is trying to make counseling services for these students more accessible, as she said they face problems other students do not typically encounter.

“What makes this so important is that it’s personal,” Alejandro Gutierrez ’13, a MEChA member, said, adding that many MEChA members have friends or family who are undocumented.

The Yale College Democrats will be in Hartford on Wednesday for a lobby day.

Comments

  • River Tam

    So an illegal immigrant (or “undocumented student” if you prefer the YDN’s doublespeak) will get in-state tuition while law-abiding American citizens, residents, and immigrants from other states will pay out-of-state tuition?

    That’s pretty messed up.

  • rm13

    Great job MEChA. Don’t let the flood of xenophobia and thinly veiled racism that’s sure to explode here in the comment section distract you from the important work you’re doing.

  • robert99

    Misplaced priorities for sure. Those who support this should be willing to make a monetary contribution to make it happen. Any takers?

  • des13

    Yes, River tam. People who have lived in this state for nearly their entire lives will have access to in-state tuition because they have graduated from high schools in the state with good grades and outstanding involvement in extra curricular activities at their schools in Connecticut, contributed to the community, worked multiple jobs, and learned English (full-filling all of the steps of assimilation that they have access to). I would suggest talking to one of the DREAMers mentioned in the article, because they are remarkable people and good Connecticut residents.

  • infidel81

    DREAM about this. A country that takes care of it’s own, not the “undocumented slackers” who have NEVER paid for anything and have been NOTHING but a drain on our society and way of life. They are OWED NOTHING !!!!!!! You’ll see when there is NOTHING left for your children and grand-children. Think I’m biased ?? Then why do all of the Hispanics I work with (who are all NATURALIZED U.S. CITIZENS) agree with me ? Because THEY are PROUD to be AMERICANS !!!! And they will keep on bad-mouthing all of your poorly thought out ideas. Am I a racist? Hardly. My nationality is AMERICAN and my heritage is RED,WHITE,AND BLACK !!!

  • GabyP

    @RiverTam you are right!…If “law-abiding’ (whatever that means) American Citizens, residents, and immigrants from other states had to pay out-of-state tuition and undocumented students that traveled to other states didnt that would be messed up! BUT the fact is that undocumented immigrants are asking to pay in-state tuition for the state they reside in ONLY!
    Ex. You live in Georgia, you graduate from HS and want to go to a Georgia college they should pay in-state. Just because they do not have papers doesnt mean that they and their families dont contribute to education…and trust me they pay taxes…sales, property, state taxes.

  • GabyP

    @infidel81 Just because you are RED, WHITE, and BLACK doesnt exclude you from being a racist. It a form of thought and the way you carry out your thought process…

    You speak and generalize about the undocumented person and the reality is that much of what you say is very prejudice and it may even sound racist! More than that though, you are exaggerating and are basing your ideals on talking points and rhetoric that have no factual foundation.

  • des13

    I’m curious, infidel81, do you eat tomatoes? Do you eat in restaurants in the New Haven area? Do you wear clothes made in Los Angeles? Unless you are running your own home garden and making your own clothes, which I doubt you are… you are using products produced by the VERY cheap labor that these “undocumented slackers” are producing. They are often paid below minimum wage, work very long hours, and product cheap products for everyone here to consume. I would not call this “slacking.”
    And what is it that they are not paying for? Because this is not a bill to offer them hand outs to college. Or scholarships or anything for that matter. These kids will still work 3 jobs trying to pay for college in the state that they RESIDE AND CONTRIBUTE to. They are working. They are going to schools and speaking English and supporting their parents. Perhaps if you, as I suggested to River Tam, talked to one of them you would see that.

  • Hieronymus’ Bosh

    > Great job MEChA. Don’t let the flood
    > of xenophobia and thinly veiled racism
    > that’s sure to explode here in the
    > comment section distract you from the
    > important work you’re doing.

    Wow. I thought (really!) that rm13 was using the /sarc tag; why? Because “xenophobia” and “racism” are terms appropriately–very appropriately–applied to MEChA.

    “Por La Raza [de Aztlán] todo; fuera de La Raza nada.”

    If we now hear cries of “We ain’t like that no more,” then I offer, neither is Yale (despite the recent and ongoing spate of articles decrying, say, Calhoun et al.).

    “In the spirit of a new people that is conscious not only of its proud historical heritage but also of the brutal gringo invasion of our territories, we, the Chicano inhabitants and civilizers of the northern land of Aztlan from whence came our forefathers, reclaiming the land of their birth and consecrating the determination of our people of the sun, declare that the call of our blood is our power, our responsibility, and our inevitable destiny. … Aztlan belongs to those who plant the seeds, water the fields, and gather the crops and not to the foreign Europeans. … We are a bronze people with a bronze culture. Before the world, before all of North America, before all our brothers in the bronze continent, we are a nation, we are a union of free pueblos, we are Aztlan. For La Raza todo. Fuera de La Raza nada.”

  • americangirl

    I am with you Red, White, & Black but I for Red, White, and Blue. I know these people just think everyhting should be owed to them. They have no idea what it is to be an american. An no their parents do not pay taxes. Remember they are illegal so they cannot file for taxes or pay for them out of their illegal checks. We already have no money for education and now the people who are always asking for tax cuts not wants us to pay for undocumented people who raise their countries flag and not american. Having this Dream Act pass would mean that more american citizens that have right to these funds would be preferentially put on the back burner b/c the minorities again will feel we are getting more of the money than them. Yeah, they work hard just as they should. If we were to go to their country do you think we would get foodstamps, welfare, medical. Hell no b/c others countries do not offer any of these free handouts. I see it like this, why don’t all the people protesting making our government fork more money to people who was no born here, why take all your energy and go back to your country and make the change. Force your government in making a change for the future. Why not free all your people that you left behind in the dirt. Use your energy like the egypt, libyans, I mean come now is time for change not for asking for more handout. You come here you need to work for it just like if we go to your country to school we have to pay for it. Why keeping thinking its owed to you. Just b/c your family brought you here and yes it is not your fault it your parents so have them pay for not me and my american people with our tax dollars. They need to be spent on the american people who know what it is to be a an american. Do you know the mexican president is just as rich as the egypt president that just stepped down. Go an rally in front of his office doors. Go make him care for your people. And i know alot of people who came here from other countries who feel the way I do. You are asking for nothing but a another handout. No I am hardly a racist i have mixed children from 2 different ethics groups. And we all feel the same stop asking for a handout. Work for what you feel is deserved. Work for education. that is what your people came here to do, to work right!

  • melissa

    Ha. Illegal immigrants benefit from Affirmative Action if they’re minorities. I bet a majority of the illegal immigrants of color attending had much lower scores than their peers. So, would you rather that spot went to an American who worked hard, who’s parents paid taxes all their lives, or an illegal immigrant who got that spot by virtue of skin color? Another point – when an illegal immigrant reached 18, they’re considered adults. When they choose to live here and work here, they are knowingly flouting our immigration laws.

  • Madas

    You know what the saddest part of all this is? In the end, regardless of all this pointless arguing, our failed policies are going to doom us all, regardless of what “side” you’re on. If DREAM passes, I suspect you’ll find a lot of Connecticut tax payers are suddenly finding it’s time to move. Lefties will call them all racists, but that won’t fix their collapsing tax rolls. If it doesn’t pass, I imagine the lefties will continue to call everyone racists and continue to undermine actual voters by ignoring illegals thus overwhelming social programs. Either way, EVERYONE loses.

  • AmericanPatriot

    Every time someone disagrees with a liberal viewpoint that even remotely involves people of different ethnicity, religion or God forbid “Skin Color” and they cant win the argument based on fact out comes the “Race Card”.

    I hazard to say most times they are unable to present a good defense based on facts; When presented with the truth or differing opinion….They ALWAYS reach for the “Xenophobe, Racist” name, it’s supposed to cause fear and in-turn silence. Well, that little ruse is wearing thin.

    It’s in the Liberal handbook, SOP , Standard Operating Procedure. If you are losing an argument pull the “Racist” card….

    Have you noticed that most of these students protesting have never paid any taxes in their lives. Let them spend 20-30 years working, paying taxes and watching the politicians misspend and abuse the privilege of stewardship of our hard earned money and lets see how fast philanthropy goes out the window and an alarm is raised….

    All of you, liberal and conservative alike need to watch the “Gumball Video” to see just how big of a Moose is on the table here.

    Here is the YouTube link for your convenience;

    http://www.numbersusa.com/content/resources/video/educational/immigration-world-poverty-and-gumballs-updated-2010.html

  • xxmonkey92

    @River

    In state tuition for those WHO LIVE in the state
    what part of that don’t you get?

  • trololololo

    @American Patriot: Your herp derping about gumballs is almost entirely irrelevant to the issue at hand. Nobody here is advocating completely open borders and mass immigration. In the context of the DREAM Act, your argument about taxes doesn’t really stand up. According to earlier CBO estimates, the DREAM Act would have cost $90,000,000 total to implement nationwide for ten years, with benefits going to roughly 13,000 undocumented students. If all 13,000 of those students were to later earn the average U.S. income, they would contribute $90,000,000 in taxes every year. You can do the maths. Even when you don’t consider this sort of sterilized cost-benefit analysis, I find it hard not to accept the moral argument that students who have lived in a US state most of their lives (by no choice of their own) should pay in-state tuition if they attend university in that state.

    Sources:

    http://www.cbo.gov/doc.cfm?index=4981

    http://www.lawschool.cornell.edu/research/JLPP/upload/Lee.pdf

    Love,

    A liberal citing [relevant] facts

    P.S. River Tam, please stop clogging up my intertubes with your snarky little quips. They aren’t entertaining, and you give Firefly a bad name.

  • justayalemom

    @American Patriot, you are absolutely correct.
    @RiverTam, I agree with you as well.
    @Madas, you couldn’t be more right!

    I am a proud American who came from Cuba 40 years ago. Who’s family worked full time and over time. Who never relied on the Government for food stamps, welfare, Medicare or any other program.

    We came legally by plane, not on a boat. My parents worked for 10 years and waited peacefully in Cuba while slowly everything we owned was taken away from us because we were soon to be refugees.

    We waited our turn in line! We paid for our own college and raised our kids without handouts.We understood what it meant to work and live in a FREE country, it meant hard work because nothing comes for FREE!!!!!!

    If you do not like the way we run this country, GET OUT!!! You come here and want to change our laws….go back to where you came from and try changing YOUR own laws.

  • justayalemom

    @Americangirl, I couldn’t agree with you more.

    I know what you are saying is absolutely 100% true because that was my family. We lived it.

    I thank God everyday for this great Nation of ours. I am ready to fight for the country and all it stands for! And will not let anyone come to my house and tell me how to run it.

    And lets stop with the poor me my parents brought me here and I am not to blame! Work hard (according to the blogs you already do, right?) and pay your way through college equally like your LEGAL neighbors.

    Stop looking at what others have and start making a difference for yourself without collecting pitty from those around you.! Make the rest of us Hispanics proud instead of ashamed.

    Instead of putting your energy and wasted time in rallying….figure out how you can be innovative and create something.

    And over all remember this country was formed by immigrants……LEGAL IMMIGRANTS!!!!

  • Sara

    Who really cares about the human rights issues here? For the sake of our economy, we desperately need more college graduates here. I don’t care if those graduates had papers when they were 8 years old, if they are green, or if they are from Mars. ANYONE who lives in our state, and has succeeded in our schools here, should have the right to in-state tuition. We should even give them large public scholarships, and subsidized internships at local companies, if they stay in college and get good GPAs. With our enormous projected shortages of skilled laborers and increasing competition from other countries, our taxpayers simply can’t afford to create any more barriers that prevent large numbers of our residents from graduating from college.

  • alevien

    A majority of undocumented student’s parents have paid taxes to the state (income, sales, etc). Therefore, they should be entitled to the benefits that those taxes paid for. In addition, this policy would save New Haven money (we won’t have to pay out-of-state tuition for undocumented Promise students), and it will decrease strain on our welfare roles and increase tax revenue from these students when they are able to get better jobs. It really just makes sense.

  • yale

    I am kind of appaulled by some of the above comments, which are so blatantly insensitive and offensive to anyone who has an immigrant past. If people could only stop and think “what did this child have to do with the fact that at age 5 his parents moved to the US?” and then realize that undocumented students (or illegal immigrants, whatever you want to call them hardly matters to me) had no say over it, they would realize that these students deserve help going to college just as much as anyone else.

  • harbinger

    So Yale students advocate a person here in violation of federal law be allowed to attend in state schools at the going rate for LEGAL residents. I presume that Yale itself will be included in this program. And when the illegal immigrant cannot afford tuition, they will be provided financial assistance. So when a prospective Yalie gets knocked out, let’s see that same Yalie stand up and applaud the fact an illegal immigrant either got their spot or the tuition assistance they needed. The majority of “undocumented” citizens do not pay taxes, as they are paid under the table. You need a social security number for tax purposes and unless there is massive SSN fraud going on, I seriously doubt they’re lining up for cards. How do you explain the fact to a student who’s been denied a place in college or funding, that in the end violating federal law does pay off. Once again we see the “pick and choose” method of what laws the illegals and their backers deem worthy of obeying. Want to play this game? Then I say every other resident can pick and choose what laws in regards to illegals they feel like obeying. Wages, housing, you name it- you can’t have it both ways. And drop the race card, we can’t even afford the ink for that anymore.

  • ds747

    harbinger:
    1. Yale is a private college and does not have “in-state” or “out of state” tuition.
    2. Yale already has undocumented students, and these are already given financial aid.
    3. The DREAM Act applies to public colleges within CT.

  • Madas

    Those of us “blatantly insensitive and offensive” individuals who are against DREAM would be much less so if it were obvious that DREAM would go towards solving our broken immigration system. There are indeed people here who probably should get amnesty. It’s certainly not their fault; they worked hard; and, realisitically, it’s a waste of a life to send them back to somewhere they have no experience. THAT SAID, the reason this situation exists at all IS BECAUSE THE SAME LIBERALS WHO NOW ADVOCATE DREAM NEVER ENFORCED IMMIGRATION LAW TO BEGIN WITH BECAUSE THEY DIDN’T LIKE IT. Until this disgusting miscarriage of democracy and justice is rectified, we are not going to stand for further incentive for people to cross our sieve like borders. Previous amnesties did jack sh!t, because states and the feds went right on ignoring the law. DREAM has a (limited) place in fixing immigration policy ONLY AFTER THE BORDERS ARE UNDER CONTROL. Otherwise, it is merely another incentive for immigrants to enter illegally. Free or reduced tuition on top of social services and immunity for a federal crime… what’s not to like? Enforce immigration policy and then we’ll talk about how to clean up the mess of personal tragedies your subversion of immigration law has caused.

  • piersonpiersoncollege

    So, not-racists, let’s leave that issue aside.

    What is your response to trololololo’s valid point [based on government budget data, which, while surely not without flaws, is not funded by a potentially biased third party] that the people whom you think are just looking for handouts are going to contribute more to our society than we have and will ever hand out to them? And what about des13’s statement of fact: we all benefit from the jobs that these people and their families do, and the DREAM Act is not some license to go to college for free.

    @Madas: Obviously the system is broken. The DREAM Act is one of many steps that needs to be taken to rectify our past missteps as a country. And doomsday-prophesying that CT residents will up and flee is just silly. That kind of charged discourse is what makes these sensitive issues so impossible to hash out to any kind of productive end in the public sphere.

    @harbinger: No one’s knocking prospective Yalies out of competition but other prospective Yalies. By whatever criteria the admissions committee uses, they are meant to be Yalies if they are admitted [I say this because @melissa brings up Affirmative Action. Setting aside my qualms with saying that AA students are somehow less worthy, what about legacy students? Are they more worthy of being here because their parents happened to be smart, or worse, just because their families have been able to afford a school like this for generations?]. US Citizenship has nothing to do with merit – if it did, we wouldn’t admit international students.

    @justayalemom: No, the country was not founded by legal immigrants because there was no such construct at the time. Had laws like that been on the books, the founders of America would have been in the wrong anyway, as this country was previously occupied [and they did a lot of terrible things to get around that issue. They're not so squeaky clean]. Your family worked hard and made it here the legal way, which is wonderful, but that has no bearing on a student who was brought here by non-citizen parents at a young age. It was not the student’s decision. Why should they be made to pay for their parents’ faults?

    Also, @AmericanPatriot, I will point out that you so helpfully suggested “Let them spend 20-30 years working, paying taxes and watching the politicians misspend and abuse the privilege of stewardship of our hard earned money and lets see how fast philanthropy goes out the window and an alarm is raised…” A logical solution. This is precisely what the DREAM Act intends to help accomplish, unfortunate as watching politicians misspend our money may be, for being able to attend college will certainly help ensure that they can get jobs to pay those taxes.

    Listen to @Sara, at least she’s arguing a sensible point.

  • harbinger

    ds747-harbinger: 1. Yale is a private college and does not have “in-state” or “out of state” tuition. 2. Yale already has undocumented students, and these are already given financial aid. 3. The DREAM Act applies to public colleges within CT.

    So Yale students are insulated from this feel good policy they support? The effects of the Dream Act will have no impact on you, the majority will leave the state once they graduate. We’ll be left with the funding problems, the legal issue of undocumented aliens being provided taxpayer money yet again and our kids competing for space at those public schools. But this will look wonderful on your political resume. How wonderfully elitist for you!

  • xxmonkey92

    @harbinger
    actually illegal aliens are giving something called an IRS number, or a tax number that allows them to pay taxes and get NOTHING in return. So before yo go saying all illegals don’t pay taxes and their all under fraud, do some research and make sure you know what you are talking about.

  • xxmonkey92

    you see what people fail to see is that the Dream act is giving these illegal children a chance to WORK and PAY TAXES.

    So i ask, why would you want them not to pay taxes? isn’t that what your all bitching about?

    Also Illegal aliens can pay taxes by means of IRS Numbers. Which is like a SS number but can only be used to PAY TAXES and nothing more, nothing less.

    Support the dream act, lets take the few good apples from the bad bunch and set them on the right path.

  • Madas

    “What is your response to trololololo’s valid point [based on government budget data, which, while surely not without flaws, is not funded by a potentially biased third party] that the people whom you think are just looking for handouts are going to contribute more to our society than we have and will ever hand out to them? And what about des13’s statement of fact: we all benefit from the jobs that these people and their families do, and the DREAM Act is not some license to go to college for free.”

    Sigh…

    First of all… pure speculation.

    Second of all… I didn’t deny it makes sense to grant amnesty to DREAM targets in an ideal world.

    BUT, before you add yet another incentive for illegal immigration, you ought to solve the border issues. Past precedent demonstrates to many well-meaning folks that this will not be done anytime soon. So they are faced with the prospect of paying for people in an unfortunate situation when more are simply going to take their place by virtue of an intentionally failed government border policy. To add insult to injury, the people responsible for this failure are largely the people pushing DREAM.

    So, in a nut shell, they don’t want to pay out the nose so that the morons in charge of policy can ease their guilty conscience about the conseqeunces of illegal immigation while still doing nothing about it.

    FIX the border problem or at least TRY to, and I imagine you’ll see a lot more support. Pursuing DREAM first, however, is like refusing surgery after you’ve cut off your arm and going for some aspirin.

    Yah, one more thing… CALLING EVERYONE A RACIST IS NOT WINNING YOU ANY FRIENDS. PARTICULARLY BECAUSE IT ISN’T TRUE. The only thing you are doing is desensitizing people to the accusation. It will fall on deaf ears when you do come accross someone truly deplorable. You will reap what you sow. Remember that.