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October 26, 2010

The DREAM Act: Hip-hoppers break it down

Rebel Diaz, a Chicago-based political hip-hop trio, gave a performance on “Hip-Hop and Immigration,” as part of a workshop on the DREAM Act last Friday at 5710 Woodlawn.

The DREAM Act, which has yet to be passed in Congress, would offer undocumented students in good standing a path to conditional permanent residency. It recently became a nationwide campus issue due in part to a provision that undocumented students would need to attend a four-year institution of higher education to be considered eligible.

Rebel Diaz, which consists of brothers RodStarz, La Tere (not present at this performance), and G1, threw down songs about injustice and political resistance before discussing hip-hop from a historical perspective.

“I thought the workshop was informative. It showcased the immigration movement from a different lens,” said second-year Noemi Garcia, a member of the Organization of Latin American Students.

Hip-hop has moved hand-in-hand with immigration, Rebel Diaz said, getting involved in issues ranging from the DREAM Act to border security. The group wanted to raise awareness about immigration issues on campus after confusion among both students and the administration on the University’s policy.

The U of C Coalition for Immigration Rights (UCCIR), which helped sponsor the workshop, petitioned the University last spring to endorse the DREAM Act. Presidents at other universities, including Harvard, Princeton, and Yale, have publicly supported the act.

The University has not given a statement on the DREAM ACT, citing the Kalven Report, which dictates political neutrality on such issues.

But earlier this month the administration clarified the policy on undocumented students in a meeting with UCCIR and through a press release, stating that the University admits undocumented students and provides them with private financial aid funding.

Although the administration did not make a statement on the DREAM Act itself, UCCIR said they were pleased with the statement that was issued and understood the rationale behind the administration’s reading of the Kalven Report as it applies to undocumented students.

Rebel Diaz was brought to campus “in order to create an environment for students to discuss openly and safely issues regarding the DREAM Act and immigration issues in general,” Garcia said.

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