Republican Senator Lloyd Smucker, from Lancaster, PA, is set to hold a press conference this morning for Pennsylvania Dreamers as he gets ready to introduce his version of the Pennsylvania Dream Act. His press conference is slated for 10:30 this morning in the main rotunda of the state capitol. The rally is being hosted by Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition (PICC) and JUNTOS, a group from Philadelphia that works with dreamers from across the Commonwealth. According to Senator Smucker’s website:
Undocumented Pennsylvania residents who complete high school would have an improved chance of attending college under a bill sponsored by state Senator Lloyd Smucker (R-West Lampeter). More than a dozen states have adopted some version of a Dream Act in recent years.
“Young people who graduate from our high schools have established a presence here, and we have made an investment in them,” Smucker said. “They are part of our future, so it only makes sense to lower barriers to additional educational advancement and achievement. The more education they attain, the better positioned they are to become contributing citizens.”
The Smucker legislation is based on Maryland’s Dream Act, which was approved by the legislature in 2011 and then upheld overwhelmingly in a ballot referendum in the November 2012 election.
Under this proposal, eligible individuals must offer proof of having attended at least two years of high school and must meet all Commonwealth residency requirements for financial aid. If admitted to college, the students would then be charged the lower in-state tuition rate.
“Pennsylvania increasingly represents opportunity for people from many different places, and this seems a practical incentive to offer those who are working and studying to make their way in our Commonwealth,” Smucker said. “This has the potential to expand the pool of skilled workers and prospective job creators. In the converse, we limit our capacity to grow if we deny opportunities to intelligent and industrious young people because of actions their parents took years ago.
“This does not reduce admission standards for anyone, nor does it guarantee you a spot,” Smucker said. “It merely removes a significant financial penalty that prevents some highly capable students from pursuing higher education.
“The intent is to make Pennsylvania more hospitable to and competitive for emerging talent,” Smucker said. “The benefits of giving every student the same tools to succeed will become clear as we watch them grow into contributing members of the Commonwealth.
This act has already gained support from Senator Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi and is expected to pass the PA Senate in a bi-partisan vote. The only obstacle this legislation faces will come from the Pennsylvania House with Republican Daryl Metclafe leading the charge. When the bill was first introduced in February, Metclafe called the bill “unpatriotic,” and went on to say:
“It’s another initiative to lead Pennsylvania into becoming a sanctuary state,” and “we should support those who hold the rule of law in high regard and stop foreign nationals from stealing it from them.”
To show support for the legislation, Senator Pileggi has been using twitter, and here are a couple of his tweets.
— Sen. Dominic Pileggi (@SenatorPileggi) January 23, 2013
— Sen. Dominic Pileggi (@SenatorPileggi) February 15, 2013