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Aggies fast to show support for Dream Act

Published: Monday, November 15, 2010

Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 21:07

After not eating for three days, the Council for Minority Student Affairs began to see burgers and turkey legs in the clouds, but they bore it for a cause they believed in. 

The Council of Minority Student Affairs ended the fast Friday outside Academic Plaza, a statewide event petitioning to readdress the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors, or DREAM Act. This is a bipartisan proposal that would allow illegal immigrant students to obtain citizenship.   

There are about 300 illegal immigrant students attending Texas A&M.

"This is an issue that affects Aggies," said Maria Cabello, a sophomore member of the Council for Minority Student Affairs. "These students were raised in Texas, accepted here and work just as hard for their degree, but they can't use it when they get out."

The University officially recognized the council this semester, and the focus is to raise awareness of the plight faced by minority students.  

After three days of fasting, members of the organization were taking down tents and folding blankets, getting ready to break the fast with granola bars at 5 p.m.

"The first day was the worst, because you're so hungry, but the second day wasn't so bad," Cabello said. "But when it's for a cause you believe in," she said trailing off, shrugging her shoulders.  

Introduced about a decade ago in 2001, the DREAM Act was designed to help remedy the issue of illegal immigrant students. In order to qualify a student must have come to the U.S. before the age of 16, graduate from high school or have a GED, enlist in the military or attend university and be of good moral character.

"I think we should allow undocumented students the same chance of an education. Just because they don't have legal status doesn't mean they don't deserve an education," said Emily Martin, a junior physics major. "Many were brought here as children and had no choice in the matter so why should we punish them? They are just as much a resident as anyone else who grew up here."

Besides fasting there was a petition students could sign to show support for the issue. "We want as many as we can get; to show student opinion, because right now senators aren't listening," Cabello said.   

Greisa Martinez, the campus awareness officer of the group, said many students were unaware of the issue, but came to ask questions and were receptive to the cause.  

In September the U.S. Senate was unable to get the necessary 60 votes to attach the DREAM Act as an amendment to the defense bill that ended with a 56-43 vote. Majority Leader Harry Reid voted to block the bill as well, which will allow it to be presented later.  

"When the state legislature meets in January, the Council for Minority Student Affairs will be working with other University groups to lobby against bills that aren't supportive of the DREAM Act," Martinez said.  

The past week was National Week of Action for the DREAM Act, said Cabello, and students at about 10 other universities across Texas participated in the fast, including the University of Texas at Austin, Lamar University and the University of North Texas.

A number of universities across the nation have openly shown their support for the cause, such as Texas, Harvard University and Stanford University, but A&M has yet to

do so.  

President R. Bowen Loftin said: "Loss of human capital is a loss to all of us," but he has not come out with an official letter, Cabello said.

"After graduation, these students go back to working on lawns or babysitting. I know one girl who graduated with a 4.0 from the Mays Business School, and she's now in Dallas babysitting. It's wasted talent," Cabello said.

However, Democrats are pushing for the DREAM Act to be added as an amendment to the defense bill, while Aggies fight the 63-11 Student Senate bill that would block illegal immigrant students from in-state tuition.

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