HARRISBURG, March 19, 2013 — The “dream” of going to college could become a reality for many undocumented Pennsylvanians under the PA DREAM Act, a measure that state Sen. Anthony H. Williams is co-sponsoring.
Williams joined the bill’s prime sponsor state Sen. Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster) and the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition during a news conference today at the Capitol in support of the PA DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors). Williams is the first Democratic co-sponsor of the legislation.
Under Senate Bill 713, all students in Pennsylvania, regardless of immigration status, would have the opportunity to attend college and be eligible for in-state tuition rates and financial aid at public universities in Pennsylvania. They must offer proof of having attended at least two years of high school and must meet all commonwealth residency requirements in order to qualify for financial aid.[hdvideo id=91 ]
Williams praised the measure as an opportunity for undocumented Pennsylvanians to achieve the American dream and obtain equal access to a higher education.
“This legislation represents a clear vision of what our country can, should, and will be,” said Williams (D-Phila./Delaware). “It’s a return to the basic understanding that if you work hard, take care of your family, and abide by the law — if you are civically responsible and you are proud to be American — you too will be accepted and embraced in this country and that includes being able to participate in basic institutions such as education.”
Thirteen states have passed similar legislation.
“I come from a family that has a history of being denied rights and access to basic freedoms in a country that says it embraces the rights of people of all backgrounds. I believe that we all deserve equal access to everything that makes this nation great,” he said. “In spite of limited perspectives of others and against the odds, many undocumented Pennsylvanians are excelling because this grand experiment of America still works. They believe in this country. What they simply want is fair access to a higher goal that their parents probably may not ever be able to achieve, and that is the dream to have a college or graduate degree, and they would love to do it in Pennsylvania and we would love to have them as Pennsylvanians. If they’re given the opportunity to go to college and graduate, and they choose to settle in Pennsylvania, they can be the greatest contributor to our revenue stream that we so desperately need to expand.”