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DREAM Act Moves Forward In Virginia

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The DREAM Act is closer to reality in Virginia, where lawmakers from both parties have unanimously voted Tuesday to put the measure on a path to a full vote by the House of delegates.

For first time in five years, a DREAM Act bill — which would grant undocumented immigrants in-state tuition at Virginia public universities — has been reported out of a Virginia House education subcommittee and now heads to the full committee, and ultimately on to the full house.

Del. Kaye Korey (D-Falls Church) sponsored one of the bills that has become part of the legislation.

"I am so proud of Virginia and my fellow delegates, " Korey says. "I am so excited at the opportunities for the opportunities that are available for so students many around the commonwealth and a lot of my constituents."

The bill drew support from the Chamber of Commerce, the Catholic Church, higher education advocates, Latino organizations and the Republican chair of the subcommittee, Del. Tom Rust (R-Herndon), who was a patron of the bill.

"The rules of the game have changed and that's the reason I put the bill in," Rust said. "Plus, it's just the right thing to do. A lot of these kids have been here their entire lives and they deserve the same treatment as our other kids." 

Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington) introduced two of six bills that are currently being considered in the House and Senate. 

"I think we are as close now as we has ever been with this issue. What's going on right now is that it makes economic sense for us to be addressing this and for the commonwealth to be addressing this," Lopez said. "We invest in these kids' education from K-12, and when they go to college, we say 'stop' ... and we lose that talent, that investment that we've made in those kids."

Edgar Aranda, the president of the Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations, called the passage "a great beginning." Korey pointed out Tuesday that the many organizations who supported the effort weren't "coerced." And the widespread support from business organziations wasn't lost on Rust.

"All the chambers of commerce in Northern Virginia came down and spoke in favor of it," Rust said.

Rust's version of the bill allows undoc students to get in state tuition if they qualify for deferred deportation under President Obama's new rules. They also have to have lived in the state for three years and someone in their family has to have paid income tax.

"It's a tough bill but it's a fair bill," Rust says.

The bill will go before the full House and Senate education committees Thursday.


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