DREAMers at Navy Pier last summer, at a workshop to apply for work permits and deportation deferrals. Photo by Heather Charles / Chicago Tribune
Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced last week that $100,000 of $275,000 privately raised funds for the Illinois DREAM fund scholarship will go to undocumented JROTC students.
“We are pleased to announce that a certain amount [of] the City’s donation to the Illinois DREAM Fund will ensure Chicago and Illinois JROTC undocumented students have access to a higher education and a bright future,” Emanuel said in a statement. “These students have shown a commitment to serving their schools, and communities, and are eager to serve in the military, but can’t because of their immigration status.”
Illinois has a reputation as one of the friendliest states toward immigrants in the country. The legislature recently passed a bill granting driver’s licenses to undocumented drivers, which Governor Pat Quinn has said he will sign.
Chicago is a well-known “sanctuary city” for immigrants, and Emanuel has made a point of rolling out the welcome mat for undocumented immigrants.
In its statement, the mayor’s office points out that “nearly 100 DREAM youth would be able to complete their first year in City Colleges of Chicago’s College to Career program.”
That number is “an estimate to quantify possible impact,” explained spokeswoman Eve Rodriguez.
There are an estimated 35,000 to 40,000 DREAMers in the city of Chicago, according to the city.
Rodriguez acknowledged that “the Illinois Dream fund won’t be able to help every undocumented student,” but said “it will help many have a better shot at the American dream.”
“The mayor has and will continue to call on congress to take action on comprehensive immigration reform and a federal dream act to make sure all of our DREAMers have an opportunity to attend college,” Rodriguez added.
Currently, the Illinois DREAM Fund‘s goal is to raise 10 million dollars. Scholarships can be used to attend any university, with up to $2,000 for a 2-year institution and $6,000 for a 4-year.
It is not renewable.
Interested DREAMers can apply for scholarships at the DREAM fund’s website, here. The deadline is March 1.