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More than 150 Massachusetts students—some holding white posters, others wearing black graduation caps—gathered at the Cathedral of St. Paul yesterday afternoon to raise awareness for a bill that would grant amnesty to undocumented students.
At the community rally organized by the Student Immigrant Movement—a youth-led statewide organization advocating for immigrant rights—local educational and political leaders expressed the urgency of passing the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, which is expected to come to a vote in the Senate this week.
If passed, the act would provide some undocumented youth with a six-year conditional path to citizenship upon the completion of two years of higher education or two years of military service.
“We need all of you in college—every one of you in college,” said Wayne Burton, president of Northshore Community College to the sea of graduation caps—a symbol of students fighting for an education—and raised posters at the rally that proclaimed, “Let us learn; Let us serve.”
David Hildt, former mayor of Amesbury and executive director of Adelante Youth CenterMembers, and Harvard Extension School student and illegal immigrant Megha Kapoor also spoke at the rally.
“It’s going to take a lot of pressure to get the bill passed in the Senate,” said Deivid L. S. Ribeiro, communications associate for the Student Immigrant Movement.
About 25 student representatives from campus groups such as the Harvard College Democrats, Harvard College Act on a Dream, Fuerza Latina, and the Student Labor Action Movement attended the rally.
“If it doesn’t pass now, given the change in legislature, it could take two years, and it’s already been 10 years... This is critical,” said Karen A. Narefsky ’11, who joined SLAM her sophomore year.
“The time for large scale outside rallies was before,” said Christine Hurd ’13, communications director for Harvard College Democrats who attended the rally, “but now it’s come down to the wire.”
Students were not the only attendees of the rally.
Edward B. Childs, the chief steward of the Local 26 division of the UNITE HERE labor union, represented the Harvard University dining hall workers and was one of the many recipients of an honorary degree from DREAM University.
“For workers, [the DREAM Act] is extremely important,” Childs said. “All our children are entitled to an education.”
—Staff writer Xi Yu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article has been revised to reflect the following corrections:
CORRECTION: DEC. 1, 2010
An earlier version of the Nov. 30 news article "Mass. Students Rally for DREAM Act" misstated Edward B. Childs' union affiliation. He is a member of Local 26, not 24, of the UNITE HERE labor union.
The article also misstated the class year of Karen A. Narefsky, who is a member of the class of 2011 and not 2012.
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