Undocumented Students Hope For Passage Of DREAM Act

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – – Philadelphia students are uniting and targeting certain GOP members this week to vote on the DREAM Act, a bill that would provide some young, undocumented, immigrants a path to citizenship.

Majority Leader Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.) promised that he would hold votes on the DREAM Act during the lame-duck session of Congress, a period when members typically reconvene to discuss unfinished legislation. In order for the DREAM Act to pass, Senator Reid will need to make sure he gets 60 votes to overcome a GOP filibuster.

It wouldn’t be the first time Congress has voted on the Act. In 2007, it failed to pass. For some undocumented students, that simply cannot happen again.

“This is our last hope,” Jose said. “I can’t wait two years for this to happen again. I can’t. All the anxiety and you want it so much. Sometimes you cry because it’s gone. You put so much effort into it. You work your whole life, and it’s gone.” said Jose, who asked that his last name be withheld.

For Jose, the American Dream does not exist. He moved to this country from Honduras when he was a young teenager. He thought coming to America would mean equal opportunity, but after a few years of being here, he wanted to drop out of school. A talk with his father, who had very little education himself, changed Jose’s mind.

“He said, ‘Look at me. I didn’t go to school. I didn’t bring you to this country to end up like me,’” Jose said. “My dad and my mom really opened my eyes.”

Jose is just one of many undocumented students in Philadelphia who want to make sure the Act is passed. Jose joined about 10 other individuals at the Nationalities Service Center, an immigration resettlement organization in Center City, to partake in a phone bank imploring senators like Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Sen. George LeMieux (R-Florida), and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) to vote on the DREAM Act. For those undocumented students making the phone calls, it was difficult hearing some of the responses.

“All I wanted was the American Dream – for me to be able to graduate college and say ‘Here Dad, here you go,’” Jose said. “I am not doing it for the money. I’m not doing it for the title. I am doing it for my mom and dad, the two pillars in my life.”

The DREAM Act, also known as the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, is a bipartisan legislation that would provide conditional permanent resident status to undocumented youth who were brought to the U.S. before age 16, present in the U.S. for five years before the passage of the Act, completed high school or obtained a GED, under age 35 by date of passage of the Act, and have no serious criminal history.

Currently, there are an estimated 2.1 million illegal immigrants that can apply for citizenship under the act, but according to Dreamactivist.org, only about 38 percent may qualify.

The passage of the bill would help young immigrants like Maria Marroquin who migrated to the United States when she was 13 years old. Like many other immigrants, Maria came to the United States under a tourist visa with her parents and siblings. They came to see family and friends, but when the Marroquin family stayed longer than planned, Maria wondered, but didn’t ask questions. Her family ended up staying in Montgomery County where Maria went to High School.

“I didn’t know what undocumented meant until I was a junior in high school and all of my friends were applying to college or going on college tours. That is when I truly realized that I would not be able to be like them,” said Maria.

Maria decided to take a year off after high school to save money for college. She often took babysitting jobs because being undocumented restricted her from being able to work other places. She eventually enrolled at Montgomery Community College where she maintained a high GPA and received her associate’s degree in social science. If the DREAM Act passes, her dream of becoming a lawyer will come true.

“I don’t blame my parents.” said Maria. “I am thankful that they did this. “I know it was tough for them to leave their country and I think that they did that for me and my siblings.

“I am thankful because I do not know what I would be doing if I stayed in Peru. I know that here, I have so many opportunities. If the dream act passes, I will be able to give back to my country – The United States,” said Maria.

Maria does not believe the passage of the bill will act as amnesty for illegal immigrants which many opponents argue. Instead, Maria feels as though if she gains legal status, she and many other undocumented students will be able to utilize their talents and help boost the economy.

As the co-founder of DREAMActivist.org, an organization that helps undocumented youth learn more about the Dream Act, Maria is prepared to fight for years to come should the bill not pass. For her, going back to Peru is not an option. America is her home. America is all she knows.

“This is our lives that we are talking about. We can’t give up until we make sure the Act is passed and we fulfill our dreams.”

Reported by: Crystal Cranmore, CBS 3


One Comment

  1. bottomline says:

    Pass DREAM – Sorry to disagree with you, but, being an open minded person I’ve had close relationships with many people of first generation, foreign roots. Sending money back “home” is almost the rule, not the exception. I have to admit I’ve been very disappointed with my foreign friends, regarding their low opinions of Americans and the American way of life. I can understand human nature, but this doesn’t contribute to our country.

  2. Jason says:

    The DREAM Act? Keep dreaming. It’s not going to happen.

    You can put a dress on a pig, and it’s still a pig. You aren’t fooling anyone. No amnesty for law-breakers.

    Even if the Act would pass, what would happen to the parents? Would they be deported? How about the siblings of those who qualify? Would they be deported as well?

    Face it, Maria, your parents knowingly overstayed their visa, and probably had no intention of ever returning to Peru. They deceived our government, and should be deported immediately.

  3. John says:

    This is ridiculous. This country owes these people nothing. If illegals want a path to citizenship, let them “wait in line” in their own country.

    My wife is from Europe, and after more than 16 months of being married, we are still waiting for her to be allowed to enter the country.

    Where is the fairness in all of this? Laws exist for a reason. Deport all illegals, and let them go through the same process as everyone else. Stop feeling sorry for these people.

  4. Good for Economy says:

    According to the Congressional Budget Office research releases today, the DREAM Act could create $2.3 BILLION in revenues from 2011-2020. This is the right thing to do, not only for these students but for our country.


  5. Joyce Mountz says:

    if the DREAM act is passed, all these “new” citizens will then be able to sponsor the parents and the rest of the whole family……….
    this is rewarding bad behavior…………
    these students ought to be angry at their parents for making them ILLEGAL…..

    1. Not true says:

      Actually, that’s not true. According to the DREAM Act, the student will have to wait 12 years to apply for citizenship. They won’t be able to sponsor anyone during this time. Also, even after they are citizens, it will be extremely difficult to sponsor family. First, you cannot sponsor anyone other than immediate family members (parents, siblings, daughter/son) and even then, it can take from several years to up to 20 years to successfully sponsor someone. That would be a total 32 year process.

  6. bottomline says:

    I sincerely care about those young people from other countries whom were in many cases cruelly deceived by their parents, raising them as they were legal citizens. But American’s have a first duty to America. I don’t like to be so critical, but notice, Maria dreams of healping Peru, not America. This a common factor amongst the illegal immigrants. The cold reality is this: If America was in trouble we’d get little help from south of the border, and that possibility isn’t exactly out of the question with the states bordering Mexico experiencing growing jeopardy. The DREAM act is pure politics and politicians – who would sleep with the devil if it got them re-elected.

    1. Pass DREAM says:

      I think she meant the United States when she said “my country,” not Peru. That’s the point. These students feel that this is their country because they have grown up here. Furthermore, DREAM Act beneficiaries come from all over the world, not just South America or Mexico. These kids want to contribute back to this country, allowing them to do so would only better our economy and country as a whole.

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