Immigrants rights activists march
to support DREAM Act
Immigrants rights activists marched from Post and Market St. to
the Civic Center
Thursday to urge Congress and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to support
the DREAM Act.
Photo(s) by John
July 6, 2007
Immigrants' rights activists marched yesterday from Post and
Market St. to San Francisco's Civic Center Plaza to show support
for the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act.
The DREAM Act, as it is
known, is a bill which would provide a path to citizenship for
students who, despite growing up in the United States, remain
The march began with a rally in front of Sen. Diane Feinstein's
office and proceeded along Market St. to the Civic Center where
they joined with students from all over California on a week long
fast to support the DREAM Act. Students came from as far as Orange
County, Los Angeles County, Central Valley and San Jose to show
"I feel awesome!" said Rodrigo, a U.C. Berkeley student
and one of the twenty six or more students fasting. "The
spirit of the people, you know, it's alive - that's what we need.
The people's presence is a medicine for me."
Going on the fourth day of his fast, Rodrigo said he's originally
from Oaxaca, Mexico and grew up in San Jose. Throughout high school
he maintained a 4.0 G.P.A. and graduated as the valedictorian
of the class of 2005. He is going on his third year at Berkeley
as a Rhetoric major.
"Unfortunately, according to federal government I am not
eligible for federal loans nor to work legally. I'm sacrificing
my body today as well as other twenty six or more students to
urge Nancy Pelosi to take a stand on the DREAM Act this year,
for it to be passed."
Under current law, children who were brought to the United States
illegally by their parents, or children whose parents tried to
immigrate legally but were denied after years of application,
derive their legal status solely from their parents, thus also
becoming illegal based upon their parent's denial. They cannot
work legally in the U.S. even if they have college degrees. Without
legal residency, immigrants who might otherwise have been scientists,
nurses, teachers, or engineers etc... are forced to settle for
"I would just hate to see the talents of all the students
go to waste." said Miriam D. a U.C. Davis student and faster.
Carlos, a psychology major at Bakersfield College came to San
Francisco to join students in the fast as well. "It's the
common unity amongst everybody that all we want is a better life
and that right is being denied."
Under the DREAM Act however, immigrant students who could meet
certain requirements would be able to obtain pathway for legal
residency. The requirements would be that they:
- Must have entered the United States before the age of 16.
- Must have lived in the United States at least five years prior
to the date of enactment.
- Must have graduated from an American high school or obtained
- Must demonstrate "good moral character", essentially
defined as having no significant criminal record or any drug charges.
It's estimated that over 65,000 immigrants graduate from high
schools every year and are able to meet those requirements.
Students who do meet the requirements would be eligible for a
temporary six year "conditional status" which would
allow them to live in the United States legally, get driver's
licenses, go to college as in-state residents, and obtain social
security numbers. During the six year period, the student would
be required to either (a) graduate from a two-year college, (b)
complete two years towards a four-year degree, or (c) serve two
years in the U.S. Military. Immigrants who complete any one of
these three requirements becomes eligible to apply for permanent
legal resident status.
Mark Siverman is an immigration attorney and activist who spoke
at the rally. "The DREAM Act is just, it's fair, but it's
not for certain that it's gonna win this year because there's
been such an increase in hatred fomented mainly by the Rush Limbaugh
like radio people. The Republican Party sees a lot of these people
as their base and they may oppose any legalization including the
legalization for the people of the DREAM Act. So we even have
to work harder for the DREAM Act."
He went on to say, "Letting these young people do their
professions is in the interest of all of us. It's just, it's fair...
it's good for the immigrants, it's good for the students, and
it's good for America."