Thrusting the state into the middle of the heated immigration debate, Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign in the coming weeks the Illinois DREAM Act that offers as many as 95,000 undocumented youths better access to higher education.
A source told Skokie Patch that Quinn would sign the legislation on Aug. 1, making Illinois the first state in the country to create a privately funded scholarship program for undocumented high school graduates who want to attend college.
The bill--formally SB 2185--passed with bipartisan support in the state House and Senate. In a rare development, Catholic church and the state's top political leaders--who do not always see eye-to-eye on many social issues--joined forces to push for passage of the legislation.
Awaiting Quinn's signature
The Senate forwarded the measure, which got its legs in February, for Quinn's signature on June 13. The D-R-E-A-M in the act stands for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors.
With the growing influence of the Hispanic bloc--whose numbers have grown by nearly 500,000 in a state with 12.83 million residents, according to the latest U.S. Census figures--the vote was also seen as a recognition of the changing political reality in Illinois.