By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Immigrant activists launched a new campaign this week designed to push lawmakers to pass the Pennsylvania Dream Act. The proposed law would allow all youth access to in-state tuition at Pennsylvania colleges regardless of their immigration status.
Titled, “Free2Dream,” the campaign includes photographs of undocumented immigrants and their supporters.
“We are doing this photo project so that our senators and representatives in Harrisburg can actually see our faces,” says Jasmine Rivera, an organizer with Juntos, a grassroots group fighting for immigration reform. She says each person is being photographed with the stamp “free to dream” in black and red.
“And then they get to pick a piece of ribbon where they are going to put wheat they want to go to school for,” she says, “basically, their dream to which they can’t achieve because of their immigration status.”
“I know how hard it can be when you’re an immigrant and you don’t know what’s in store for you,” says Fred Pinguel, 27. He immigrated from the Philippines and has been in the US for 21 years. He says his dream is family.
“I want to be able to provide my family with the kind of stability that honestly you can only have with documentation,” he says, noting he is currently going through naturalization processes right now. “I had a time when I was 15 or 16 when I couldn’t get a state ID because I didn’t have a piece of paper. But the government wouldn’t give me the piece of paper without a state ID. It was crazy. I just want a stable life.”
“My grandfather was an immigrant from Mexico,” says Nico Amador. He’s a citizen, but took a photo to support others. “I absolutely believe that everyone should have a right to affordable education.”
In-city tuition at Community College of Philadelphia is $2,500, out-of-state tuition costs $4,000 more.
“Right now the few institutions that allow undocumented students to go make them pay full tuition and people in our community just can’t afford that,” says Rivera.
The Pennsylvania Dream Act was introduced into the state Senate in March. To date, 13 states have adopted similar legislation.