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Illinois Dream Act: More Foreign Languages

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CHICAGO, Ill. (IRN) - The Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago used its annual Muslim Action Day to advocate for several things they say will create a better state not just for Muslims, but the entire population. 

Alaa Mukahhal, 24, of Palos Hills, has lived in Illinois since she was 7, and is undocumented. She’s encouraging lawmakers to support the “Illinois DREAM Act,” currently sponsored by Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago).  

“The future of the country, of our state, of our cities, of our communities, of our neighborhoods comes back and depends on the education of its residents,” Mukahhal explains. “Because equal access to education is not an immigration issue, it’s a human rights issue. It affects all communities.”  

The Council advocates for several issues in its annual action day, at least one of which has gained traction in the past few years.  

Dr. Zaher Zahloul chairs the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago. He used the day to encourage school districts across Illinois to adopt the teachings of Arabic, Mandarin, Russian, and other world languages considered strategic.

“Our federal government has identified in 2008, in the national security language initiatives, certain languages as critical need languages,” says Zahloul.

Nearly a dozen schools in Chicago started a pilot program recently to teach some of these languages, and Zahloul says the results so far have been impressive.

He hopes those results will catch on.

Copyright Illinois Radio Network

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