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Undocumented graduates rally for aid

September 21, 2010|By Max Zimbert, max.zimbert@latimes.com
(Tim Berger/Staff…)

GLENDALE — [Updated] Nineteen-year-old Nancy Fernandez is in her second year at Glendale Community College, but once she gets her degree, there'll be no where to go for her to go.

She was admitted to slew of University of California campuses after high school, but she cannot afford tuition.

"I need financial aid," she said. "I don't have the resources to go where I could go."

She said her parents brought her to the U.S. when she was eight-months-old. Her undocumented status forbids her from traditional avenues for financial aid.

She joined more than two dozen Glendale Community College students and alums Tuesday to support the federal DREAM Act, which would give qualified undocumented immigrants access to citizenship, and by extension, financial aid. They'd get a green card after they enroll in a college or serve in the military.

"We want to tell people we are here, this is the only home we know and we want to contribute to our society," said Omar Moreno, a 2005 Glendale Community College graduate who moved to the U.S. at age 11. "And to do that, we need support from other people, people who can vote."

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The DREAM Act was attached to a military spending bill that did not overcome a filibuster in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday. The decade-old bipartisan bill is expected to be revisited after the November election, officials said. It would provide a path to citizenship for young adults who grew up in the U.S., are without a criminal record, graduate a high school and pass a background check.

"It's not the end of the road," Greg Perkins, a counselor and advisor to the student group that organized the rally, said at the rally. "We still want to make the message heard clearly."

The California Legislature passed a similar bill last month that is awaiting Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's signature.

It would open the door for UC regents to approve extending financial aid to Fernandez and other undocumented students who've been admitted to UC schools, but cannot afford higher education.

About 350 undocumented students are enrolled at Glendale Community College this semester, Perkins said. Many are Latino, but 10% are Armenian, 15% are Korean, and other ethnic groups at the college also lack the proper paperwork, he said.

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