Yesterday, Americans (except for maybe John McCain) observed a day of respite thanks to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Politicians went to MLK events, kissed babies, and were all overwhelmed in the spirit of kumbaya. Even Glenn Beck was politically correct yesterday (let’s hope this carries on into Black History Month).  As we all sang “We Shall Overcome” and embraced multiculturalism I still felt a bit uneasy. How is it so easy for some public officials to conspicuously promulgate tolerance and acceptance but then go back to Washington and kill D.R.E.A.M.S. ? How can public servants call for peace when they spew vitriol that incites violence?

For the last few months I’ve been writing extensively on why the DREAM Act is a landmark piece of legislation that must be passed. Week after week I’ve used comedy, music, and prose to push for a clear path to citizenship for law abiding undocumented people. Although the bill failed in the Senate there is still a glimmer of hope on the horizon. While the fate of this bill is still uncertain, the buzz that it has created is palpable. Whatever the outcome of this bill may be, it is undeniable that the legions of undocumented people who have contributed to the vitality of the United States of America will continue to advocate for full citizenship and recognition by the federal government.

Former Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill once stated, “All politics is local.” One person stepping up to the plate in a big way is Chicago Mayoral candidate, Rahm Emmanuel. Last Thursday Emanuel’s campaign released a statement saying, “Just because Congress has yet to pass the Dream Act doesn’t mean we will wait for progress in Chicago.” “All children in Chicago deserve to have access to a quality education, and we will make sure they have that opportunity”, Emanuel said in a statement.  Although the Chicago version doesn’t guarantee a direct path to citizenship it allows students to take advantage of the same financial aid opportunities for college regardless of status. Those eligible would be able to receive student loans to both community colleges and four-year universities at a low interest rate, Emanuel told Telemundo. His plan is to raise $5 million from “business and civic leaders” to pay for the loans.

The eligibility requirements are as follows:

* Moved to Chicago before the age of 16…

* Resided in Chicago for at least five consecutive years prior to application for DREAM Status.

* Be a student in good standing at an elementary or high school in Chicago – public, private or religious.

* Be between the ages of 12 and 25 at the time of application.
* Be a law-abiding Chicagoan.

I commend Rahm Emanuel for having the moxy to stand up for what is right. Many folks acquiesce in the face of defeat, but Emanuel is a shining example of standing tall and fighting for ALL Americans even when detractors say no.

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