Organizations urge students to call senator, act for DREAM
Students gathered outside M.D. Anderson Library to urge the UH community to call U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison in support of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act that was re-introduced in Congress on Wednesday.
"(Undocumented students) come to school, they have good grades, they work and it’s like, why shouldn’t they have the opportunity like everybody else?" psychology sophomore Dayana Gomez said.
The Chicago Tribune reported that the DREAM Act fell eight votes short of the 60 required to be debated in the Senate on Wednesday.
"There are young people who have been brought to this country as minors, not of their own doing, who have gone to American high schools, graduated and want to go to American colleges, and they are in a limbo situation," Hutchison, R-Texas, told the Chicago Tribune.
She supported the bill, the Tribune reported.
The UH chapter of League of Urban Latin American Citizens, Jovenes Inmigrantes Para Un Futuro Mejor (Young Immigrants for a Better Future), Familias, Inmigrantes y Estudiantes en la Lucha (Families, Immigrants and Students in the Struggle) were present to gather support for the proposed bill.
E-mails were sent out late Tuesday evening informing students of the demonstration on Wednesday, LULAC organizer Mirel Herrera said. The act was originally scheduled to be reintroduced in Congress mid-November, but was moved earlier, Herrera said.
Students at the demonstration held up signs with Hutchison’s office phone number to raise awareness.
"I’m just here to support (undocumented students) because I believe everybody deserves a fair chance. I think that by helping them, we’re helping the entire community-the whole United States, just everybody," Gomez said. "Everybody benefits out of these students, out of these families. Why not give them a fair opportunity to work in what they love and what they received their major in?"
If passed, the Dream Act, which was introduced in 2001, would allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition for college and then work legally in the U.S. after graduating from a college or university.
"It’s to students who show good moral character and are going to actually become a successful member of society and contribute to society," English literature junior Azucena Flores said.
Flores said that all students, regardless of their status, deserve to have equal education opportunities.
Under the act, high school graduates in the United States would have the opportunity to apply for residency if they demonstrate good moral quality, attend a two-year college, university or join the military. If students meet the requirements, the proposed act would make them eligible for permanent residency.
Students present also said that the act would not just affect Hispanic students, but the diverse ethnic student population in general.
"A lot of people associate (the Dream Act) with being Mexican or being Hispanic, but it really applies to anybody – all international students that don’t have U.S. citizenship, that have to come to school pay out of pocket because they’re not offered financial aid," Flores said. "And this Dream Act will provide them the chance to get financial aid and to actually have a job after they graduate instead of being in limbo because they have the degree, but no citizenship."
Some students walked by the group and took out their cell phones and called Hutchison’s office on the spot.
Other students said they weren’t sure what the Dream Act was.
"They’re not being extremely clear about what their views (are) or what they’re trying to do," pre-pharmacy freshman Carlos Conchu said.
Conchu said that he supported a form of amnesty or a program that would allow students to work without legal repercussions.
"I believe people come here for a reason," Conchu said. "Folks are coming in from Cuba through Mexico just to get here, because the way from Cuba to the U.S. straight isn’t safe anymore."
Gomez said she thinks it is only fair to give all students a chance to be successful after graduation.
"I wouldn’t call this an amnesty, because the students are working. They’re working for their education," Gomez said. "I think they earned it basically because many of them are going to school, they work, they help their parents and families to survive in this country. Everything for them is not free."