On Wednesday afternoon, the Illinois State Senate passed a landmark bill that would support the efforts of children of immigrants to go to college. The Illinois DREAM Act would create a privately funded college scholarship program for undocumented students who met certain criteria, and provide them with more educational and counseling resources.
Immigrant rights groups around the state celebrated the decision. But at least one conservative group, the Palatine Tea Party, set aside its national focus to hammer state legislatures on passing the bill.
The Capitol Fax publishes an email blast sent by the Tea Party:
The Illinois Republican Senators who voted ‘YES’ to Dream Act SB 2185 are part of the problem in Illinois. Instead of focusing on issues like jobs, taxes and our economy they are more interested in getting votes. It is clear our current elected officials are much more concerned with their reelection than what matters for the citizens of Illinois.
We will Never forget your VOTE!
But as Rich Miller, author of Capitol Fax, points out, "It really isn’t a gigantic bill." Indeed, Republican State Senator Ron Sandack -- who was mentioned by name in the Tea Party email -- pointed out the limited nature of the bill in a press release.
“It is important to clarify that this bill is not an immigration bill," Sandack said in that statement. "It does not grant any sort of legal citizenship status."
He sought to avoid confusion with the federal DREAM Act, a failed measure from which the Illinois bill draws its name but none of its content. That law would have created a path to citizenship for young people who were children of undocumented immigrants.
States can't legislate immigration or citizenship issues, so the Illinois bill is focused instead on getting immigrants to college.
The bill passed the Senate by a margin of 45-11, with eleven Republicans in favor. It will soon go before the State House for consideration.