Our VoiceImmigration

Help Students and the American Dream

Glenn Hutchinson • Jun 29, 2011

We need more dreamers in America, not less.

We need dreamers like Erick.   He came to the United States from Mexico when he was 2 years old.  He grew up here, went to school here, and was taught the American dream. He graduated high school and then completed his Associates Degree at Central Piedmont Community College.  Now Erick is 22 years old and has been accepted to the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, but something is keeping him from pursuing his education.

Last October, Erick was driving home from the gym and was stopped by the police because he had on his high beams.  Erick explains:

“When I got pulled over, I gave the police officer my name, Erick Domingo Velazquillo.  The police officer was not able to find me in the computer so he decided to search my vehicle for my license, as I had misplaced it.  He found my expired license in my gym bag and accused me of lying about my identity because my license does not show my middle name Domingo.”

Erick couldn’t renew his license, because North Carolina, like many other states, has changed the law to prevent undocumented immigrants from getting licenses.  And because of the 287g program, Erick was arrested and put in jail.   Three days later, he avoided being transferred to a detention center, because his family posted the $5000 bail.

Erick will go to court next month, and he is working with the NC Dream Team to urge the government to stop his deportation with deferred action.

Unfortunately, there are many students who are in similar situations.  Last month, I wrote about Jessica Colotl, the 22 year-old Kennesaw State student who spent 37 days in an Alabama detention center after being arrested at a traffic stop in Georgia.

When I share such stories with my friends, a common response is, “Well, why don’t they just become citizens?”  However, many fail to realize that it’s not that simple.

These students came to the States often as young children and not by their own choice.  They have grown up here.  They have made this country their home.  However, it’s practically impossible for them to become citizens.  Under current law, many would be forced to leave the country for 10 years and then have a next to nothing chance of gaining a visa to re-enter the States.

These students want to become citizens, but current laws do not allow it.

Sadly, Congress has failed to pass the Dream Act, legislation that would give many of these young dreamers a chance of changing their undocumented status and remain in the only place they know as home.

Immigration is a complex issue, and many disagree.  But why would we want to deport a young man who has lived here since he was 2 years old?  Why would we want to keep a young man from pursuing his education?  And why would we want to split up a family?

If you agree that this deportation should be stopped, please get involved.  Email the Dream Team and tell them that you will sign Erick’s petition: [email protected].

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