The Minnesota state Legislature currently has a state version of the DREAM Act before it that will allow access to higher education to the highest-achieving undocumented students. The University of Minnesota is amongst many institutions, including the Minneapolis and St. Paul public schools, the Minnesota Private Colleges Council, the American Civil Liberties Union, the city of Minneapolis, the Citizens League and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce that support the legislation.
The bill before our state representatives will allow young undocumented students in Minnesota access to financial aid and in-state tuition. The legislation includes three important requirements. First, the students must have attended a Minnesota high school for three years; second, they must graduate from a Minnesota high school and finally, the students must sign an affidavit of normalized immigration status.
The annual impact of this legislation will be only a fraction of 1 percent of graduating seniors in Minnesota, and estimates predict that number to be only about 332 students. These students most often have been brought to the U.S. at a very young age, some as young as a few months old. They know only Minnesota as their home. They are high-achieving academically and actively contribute to their communities. Their families have contributed to the Minnesota economy both by spending money in Minnesota businesses and paying taxes via Minnesota state income taxes.
This issue is not a partisan one, as similar legislation has been passed through a Republican Legislature and governor in Texas. This is a common-sense bill that supports both the ambitions for young people to get an education in the state of Minnesota. This legislation could offer an incentive for students that could help bridge what is the United States’ worst achievement gap. It will also lead to a more educated and engaged community. Education is a human right, and this legislation will only contribute to the prosperity of Minnesota.