(The Center Square) – Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a bill that will require public universities to designate an employee to serve as an Undocumented Student Resource Liaison to help students without documentation get access to aid.
House Bill 3438 aims help students who are undocumented immigrants get the help and resources they need in a college setting.
The legislation comes ten years after former Gov. Pat Quinn signed the Illinois Dream Act. The Dream Act was designed to make scholarships, college savings and prepaid tuition programs available to undocumented students who graduated from Illinois high schools.
Tanya Cabrera, who is the assistant vice provost for Student Inclusion at University of Illinois Chicago, said the legislation helps students get the help they need without having to be nervous about revealing their immigration status.
“We have had 87% of our students did not seek out any additional resources because of the triggering fear of self-revealing their immigration status,” she said.
Former Illinois Dream Foundation scholarship winner Egle Malinauskaite, an undocumented immigrant, supports the legislation. He says that more students need a liaison like this to get where they need to go in life.
“Every university needs their own Tanya Cabrera, someone who understands how the immigration system interacts with higher education and someone who advocates for the success of undocumented students,” Malinauskaite said.
Republican state Rep. Adam Niemerg opposed the bill because he said it was an unfunded mandate on colleges and universities, which will cost taxpayers across the state.
Niemerg said that while he supports legal immigration, but said he is opposed to “using taxpayer money to fund a project for illegal immigrants is something I am against.”
The law goes into effect immediately.