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The DREAM Act: A social justice imperative. AVID Southern California Training Presentation by Dennis Lopez, M.Ed., Educational Equity Consultant Volunteer & Co-Founder of the Leticia A. Network 1985-2011 Thursday, July 28, and Tuesday, August 2, 2011 San Diego, CA.

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The DREAM Act: A social justice imperative

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The dream act a social justice imperative l.jpg

The DREAM Act: A social justice imperative

AVID Southern California Training

Presentation by Dennis Lopez, M.Ed., Educational Equity Consultant

Volunteer & Co-Founder of the Leticia A. Network 1985-2011

Thursday, July 28, and Tuesday, August 2, 2011

San Diego, CA

Contact Dennis Lopez at [email protected]

or (951) 204-8499


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Plyler vs. Doe, 1982U.S. Supreme Court Decision regarding the education of undocumented immigrant children residing in the U.S.

  • The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Plyler vs. Doe, 1982, that undocumented children in the United States had a right to a public education from Kindergarten through the 12th grade.

  • The U.S. Supreme Court concluded that children who were brought to this country through no fault of their own would be relegated to a permanent underclass in the United States if they were to be denied access to a public school education K-12 due to their undocumented immigrant status.

  • As a result of this ruling, undocumented children can attend public schools without having to pay tuition. Unfortunately, the right to public higher education was not extended to undocumented immigrants residing in the U.S. by the ruling in Plyler vs. Doe.

To contact Dennis Lopez: [email protected]

or (951) 204-8499


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Leticia A. vs. UC Regents & CSU Trustees, 1985

  • In 1985, the San Francisco Lawyers Committee on Civil Rights, META, MALDEF, and other civil rights organizations won a class action lawsuit requiring campuses of the UC and CSU to classify students as state residents consistent with the definition of state residency in the California Education Code without discriminating based on federal immigration status. California students who could prove they lived in the state for at least a year and a day qualified for California state residency. This ruling enabled undocumented immigrant students to be eligible for in-state tuition and for state forms institutional financial aid. Note that the California Education Code definition of state residency has been changed since 1985.

  • Although not a party to the Leticia A. litigation, the California Community College Board of Governors and the California Student Aid Commission each voted to follow the terms of the ruling. Consequently, undocumented immigrant students who lived in California a year and a day were classified as state residents in the California Community Colleges and for the Cal Grant scholarship programs as well from 1985-1991.

To contact Dennis Lopez: [email protected] or (951) 204-8499


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Changes in undocumented student college access policy, litigation, & legislation in California 1991-2011

  • In 1991, the in the ruling in the case of Bradford vs. the UC Regents, a state court judge ruled that the UC system could no longer classify undocumented immigrant students as residents of California for tuition purposes.

  • In 1992, the ruling in the case of Association of American Women vs. the California State University Board of Trustees, ruled that campuses of the CSU could no longer classify undocumented immigrant students as state residents for tuition purposes.

  • In 1994, Californians passed Proposition 187, the Save Our State Initiative, which sought to deny undocumented persons access to the public schools and health care. Furthermore Prop 187 sought to require educators, health care professionals, and public safety personnel to report those who they “suspected” of being undocumented to the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Most provisions of Proposition 187 were found to be in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

  • From 1991 to 2001, undocumented immigrant students in California were again assessed out-of-state tuition and denied access to state financial aid. This classification foreclosed their possibility of low income undocumented immigrant students access to higher education in California.

  • In October 2001, Governor Gray Davis signed AB 540 (Firebaugh) into law enabling undocumented students who have attended high school in California for at least 3 years, graduated, and sign an affidavit promising to legalize their status-”as soon as possible”, their out-of-state tuition can be waived. Unfortunately, AB 540 did not provide access to federal, state or institutional public sources of financial aid.

  • In 2011, California State Assemblyman Gil Cedillo has introduced two bills known as the California DREAM Acts. One of which, AB 130, would enable qualified students to gain access to scholarships administered by public colleges & universities, was signed into state law by Governor Jerry Brown on Monday, July 25, 2011. The other bill, AB 131 would provide eligible students with access to the Cal Grants. AB 131 is currently being held up in the California State Senate Appropriations Committee. IT IS CRITICALLY IMPORTANT that AB 131 be taken out of the SUSPENSE FILE and passed by the STATE LEGISLATURE so Governor Brown can sign it into state law.

[email protected]

or (951) 204-8499


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IRCA & Leticia A. Alumni: Proof that Congress should pass the DREAM Act

  • In 1986, President Ronald Reagan, former Governor of California, signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA). This law enabled nearly 3 million persons in the U.S. who had been undocumented to legalize their immigration status. (Please see the research report of UCLA Economist – Dr. Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda at: http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/special-reports/raising-floor-american-workers)

  • The combination of the Leticia A. ruling that had provided access to California higher education, and IRCA legalization, provided thousands of formerly undocumented immigrant students with the opportunity to legalize their immigration status, to access colleges and universities, earn college degrees, and become professionals of every sort. I refer to these individuals as Leticia A Alumni. These Leticia A. Alumni now pay more in taxes, earn higher incomes, and contribute to society as professionals. Leticia A. Alumni ARE THE LIVING PROOF in the need for the federal DREAM Act and the California DREAM Act.

To contact Dennis Lopez: [email protected]

or (951) 204-8499


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The Leticia A. Network 1984-2011

  • In the early 1980’s a group of low level college & university employees of the UC, CSU, California Community Colleges, and private colleges Outreach and Admissions programs, along with some high school counselors, saw the discrepancy between the mission of k-12 schools and the mission of public higher education and established the Leticia A Network.

  • Several of these educators began inquiring about this inconsistency in policy within the UC, CSU, Community Colleges, public schools, and began to search out legal advice. At that time public interest law firms including the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) were preparing a class action lawsuit to address this problem. These educators referred families of undocumented students to MALDEF and the San Francisco Lawyers Committee on Civil Rights and theses students, including Leticia A., became name plaintiffs.

  • Over the past 27 years educators in the Leticia A. Network have continued to advocate for undocumented immigrant access to California higher education.

To contact Dennis Lopez: [email protected] or (951) 204-8499


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State Legislative Efforts

  • State Assembly Bill 540 (Firebaugh, 2001) enabled undocumented immigrant students who attended a California high school for at least 3 years to be classified as state residents. Unfortunately eligibility for state financial aid was not included in this legislation.

  • California Dream Act legislation: State Assembly Bill 130 (Cedillo, 2011) & State Assembly Bill 131 (Cedillo, 2011) were introduced in January 2011. These bills would have enabled low-income undocumented immigrant students who have studied in California high schools for 3 years will be eligible for state sources of need based financial aid.

  • The California Supreme Court heard a challenge AB 540, Martinez et al., vs. UC Regents, 2009, and, in a 7-0 decision, upheld this legislation.

To contact Dennis Lopez: [email protected]

or (951) 204-8499


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THE DREAM Act

  • In 2003, U.S. Republican Senator Orrin Hatch and U.S. Representative Christopher Cannon, both of Utah, were among the original Co-Authors of the DREAM Act which would have provided a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrant students who attending colleges and universities in the United States.

  • On May 11, 2011 Democratic Senator Richard Durbin reintroduced the DREAM Act in the U.S. Senate (S. 952). In addition to providing a pathway to permanent residency for previously undocumented immigrants from 18 to 35 years of age who enroll in college for at least two years, this bill includes an option to permanent residency for undocumented immigrants who enlist in the armed services.

To contact Dennis Lopez: [email protected]

or (951) 204-8499


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Peaceful Organization and Advocacy of Undocumented Immigrant Students in California and around the nation

  • Continued commitment to advocate for the DREAM Act and for comprehensive immigration reform with national, state, and local civil rights groups, immigrant rights groups, educators, and civic leaders.

  • Lobbying efforts in United States Congress, state legislatures, colleges and universities, and municipalities.

  • Press conferences, television appearances, phone call campaigns, marches, and teach-ins.

  • Sharing of scholarship information, forming housing and transportation cooperatives, food banks, book loans, and peer tutoring peer mentoring.

To contact Dennis Lopez: [email protected]

or (951) 204-8499


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Supporters of the DREAM Act

  • President of the United States, Barak Obama

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/11/29/whats-going-with-dream-act

  • Former U.S. Secretary of State, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Colin Powell (U.S. Army General – Retired): http://colorlines.com/archives/2010/09/colin_powell_talks_up_dream_act_and_urges_gop_to_rethink_immigration.html

  • U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan

    http://www.ed.gov/news/media-advisories/secretary-education-arne-duncan-hold-call-dream-act

  • The College Board: http://professionals.collegeboard.com/guidance/financial-aid/undocumented-students

    http://www.collegeboard.com/press/releases/204864.html

  • 39 U.S. Senators were co-authors of the September 2010 DREAM Act

  • 128 Members of the House of Representatives were co-authors of the DREAM Act

To contact Dennis Lopez: [email protected]

or (951) 204-8499


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What can you/we do?

  • Respect and protect the privacy of student undocumented immigrant status.

  • Identify sources of low cost/no cost immigration counsel.

  • Refer students (and their parents) to low-cost/no cost immigration attorneys.

  • Educate yourself on the issue of the DREAM Act & comprehensive immigration reform.

  • Advocate for legislation for humane – comprehensive immigration reform, the DREAM Act, and against anti-immigrant, punitive legislation in Congress. An example of harmful legislation currently being considered in Congress is the HALT Act (Smith/Vetter). This Advocate for state & local legislation that offers positive solutions for the plight of undocumented state residents and against anti-immigrant punitive legislation.

  • Advocate for undocumented immigrant students in your district, union, church, and/or professional organization.

  • Contribute to food banks, book loans, teach-ins, forums to aid undocumented immigrant students who are studying at local colleges and universities.

  • View November 15, 2010 - ABC News Coverage on the DREAM Act at:

    http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/senate-vote-dream-act-immigration-lame-duck-congress/story?id=12136182

To contact Dennis Lopez: [email protected]

or (951) 204-8499


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Selected Related Reading

  • Chacon, Justin Akers & Mike Davis. (2006). No One is Illegal: Fighting Racism and State Violence on the U.S. – Mexico Border. Haymarket Press: Chicago, Illinois.

  • Chavez, Leo, R. (2001). Covering Immigration: Popular Images and the Politics of the Nation. University of California Press: Berkeley, Los Angeles and London.

  • Chavez, Leo, R. (2008). The Mexican Threat: Constructing Immigrants, Citizens, and the Nation. Stanford University Press: Stanford, CA.

  • Gandara, Patricia and Frances Contreras. (2010). The Latino Education Crisis: The Consequences of Failed Social Policies. Harvard University Press: Cambridge, MA.

  • Lopez, Maria Pabon, and Gerardo Lopez. (2010). Persistent Inequality: Contemporary Realities in the Education of Undocumented Latina/o Students. Routledge: New York, NY.

  • Olsen, Laurie and Marcia Chen. (1988). Crossing the Schoolhouse Border: Immigrant Students in California Public Schools. California Tomorrow: San Francisco, California.

  • Olsen, Laurie. (1997). Made in America: Immigrant Students in Our Public Schools. New Press: New York.

  • Suárez-Orozco, Carola, Suárez-Orozco Marcelo, and Irina Todorova. (2008). Learning a New Land: Immigrant Students in American Society. Belnap Press of Harvard University Press: Cambridge & London.

  • Suarez-Orozco, Marcelo. (1989). Central American Refugees and U.S. High Schools: A Psychosocial Study of Motivation and Achievement. Stanford University Press: Stanford, California.

  • Valencia, Richard, R. (2008). Chicano Students and the Courts: The Mexican Legal Struggle for Educational Equality. New York University: New York, NY.

  • Vernez, Georges, Kopp, Richard and C. Peter Rydell. (1999). Closing the Education Gap: Costs and Benefits. Center for Research on Immigration Policy/RAND Education: Santa Monica, California.

  • Zuniga, Victor and Ruben Hernandez-Leon. (Ed.s). (2005). New Destinations: Mexican Immigration in the United States. Russell Sage Foundation: New York.

[email protected]

or (951) 204-8499


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Selected Web-sites for Immigrant students and their counselors

  • American Civil Liberties Union--http://www.aclu.org/California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation: http://www.crlaf.org/

  • California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation: http://www.crlaf.org/

  • CHIRLA: the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles--http://www.chirla.org/

  • Immigration Impact--- http://immigrationimpact.com/

  • Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund—http://www.maldef.org

  • National Coalition of Advocates for Students---http://www.ncas1.org

  • National Council of La Raza—http://www.nclr.org

  • National Immigration Law Center-- http://www.nilc.org/

  • People for the American Way: The DREAM Act/Student Adjustment Act Brief: What is at stake?

    http://www.pfaw.org/pfaw/general/default.aspx?oid=14845#1

  • Public Policy Institute For California: http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp

  • Salvadoran American Leadership and Educational Fund (SALEF)-- http://www.salef.org

  • Ideas for Change: Pass the DREAM Act: http://www.change.org/ideas/view/pass_the_dream_act_now

  • United We Dream: Sign the Petition: http://dreamact2009.com/index.html

  • The DREAM Act Portal: http://dreamact.info/

  • DREAMActivist: Undocumented Students Action and Resource Network FAQ’s:

    http://www.dreamactivist.org/faq/

  • We Are America: DREAM Stories: http://www.weareamericastories.org/stories/dream-stories/

  • Senator Richard Durbin (IL) & Senator Harry Reid (NV) on the DREAM Act [from Senator Durbin’s official website] :http://durbin.senate.gov/watchClip.cfm?clipId=ea4e2ad2-99dc-4eea-ad7e-3afbbcd3f517

To contact Dennis Lopez: [email protected]

or (951) 204-8499


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