Nineteen-year-old José Salcedo took a stand Wednesday that may turn out to be a milestone in his life and in the struggle for legalization by undocumented immigrants.
A keynote speaker at a student rally at Miami Dade College's InterAmerican campus in Little Havana, Salcedo surprised many of his listeners when he revealed he was undocumented.
The Colombia-born Salcedo is no ordinary student. He is Student Government Association president at the InterAmerican campus, student representative on the Board of Trustees for Miami Dade College and a member of the school's Honors College, one of 550 elite students.
Hey, nice credentials pal. Really. But, if you are here illegally, go back to Columbia, apply for citizenship or a visa, and go to the end of the longest line. Sorry, but them's the rules. You do know about rules and like laws and stuff, right?
Salcedo isn't the only one to "come out", if you will:
Pedro Ramirez now says he's not ashamed to admit -- he's an undocumented immigrant.
Ramirez says for past four years he's had to lie about his immigration status because he was afraid of what would happen to him. But now he says he doesn't have to be afraid anymore.
Pedro Ramirez undocumented status had been a secret to his classmates and teachers. But that all changed Tuesday when the Fresno State newspaper the Collegian published this article online.
"For me it's a big relief. I've been holding this in for the majority of my life since I found out in high school." said Ramirez.
Ramirez came to the United States from Mexico when he was three. He says he didn't find out about his illegal status until he applied for scholarships and military grants his senior year.
Having no social security card meant no federal funding. "So I just went through the college route. A lot of my counselors helped me out. They told me of the way that I can get into college without being a citizen." added Ramirez.
Ramirez is receiving his education through a state bill that allows him to pay in-state tuition.
When the political science major decided to run for office last spring he thought nothing of his undocumented status.
"There's no citizenship requirements to be a student officer. It's student government. I'm here to serve the students not the state of California or the federal government." said Ramirez.
But not everyone agrees.
Cole Rojewski also ran for president and lost to Ramirez.
"He misled the students he wasn't up front about it. And no one knew about it. So I think he should step down and have a re-election." said Rojewski.
Action News spoke to many students on campus who has just learned of the news. Their opinions were mixed.
"To me honestly it does not matter. I mean as long as he, whatever he's running for, if he does a good job at it then that is perfectly fine with me." said Christina Esquivel.
"I'm a legal immigrant. And I went through so much pain to immigrate to this country it's a very long process and it bothers me that people would just come in without doing it but I understand it can be difficult." said Isaac Martin.
Hey, nice legal manuevering there, Ramirez, I am sure that you could be an attorney in the Obama Admin's Department of Just-Us Civil rights department.
Why are these people feeling emboldened to come out? Because Obama has vowed to push through something called the DREAM Act, which would reward those who break the law with free college. Here is what the DREAM Act would do:
The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act would essentially repeal part of prior federal law—specifically the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA)—“that prohibits any state from offering in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens unless the state also offers in-state tuition rates to all U.S. citizens.” It would further offer amnesty to those illegal immigrants that came to the U.S. before the age of 16 and have lived here for at least five years if they serve in the military or attend college.
The act is touted as a way to incorporate children of illegal immigrants into American society. However, the DREAM Act would have the following consequences:
It would reward illegal aliens for violating federal immigration laws by giving them in-state tuition while there are state laws that deny legal aliens on student visas such tuition benefits.
It would encourage more illegal immigration by sending the message that the U.S. does not take its immigration laws seriously.
It would offer these benefits on taxpayer dollars while out-of-state students struggle to fund their college educations and the economy flounders.
It would prohibit the government from deporting anyone who files an application for DREAM Act benefits and would prohibit other agencies (such as the Department of Homeland Security) from receiving the information—essentially giving amnesty to individuals regardless of whether they actually qualify for the act’s protections.
It would allow younger illegal immigrants the opportunity, like legal immigrants, to sponsor their immediate family members for a green card. While current law prohibits sponsorship of illegal immigrants living in the U.S., this leaves open the possibility that they could fraudulently, through falsified documents or other means, sponsor their parents who are in the U.S. illegally—creating an even larger amnesty.
This is stealth amnesty, and Harry Reid has played around with inserting it into the Defense Bill in the Senate. Look, everyone should get an education, but it is not a right beyond compulsory schooling. Post secondary education is a choice, not a right. Giving such status to illegals is wrong on many levels, national security being one, but what about our citizens? It will only further cause financial hardship to colleges, leading to higher tuition, leading to fewer students able to afford the cost. Also, it will basically give amnesty to many who broke the law and flaut the law by getting breaks on tuition while our own citizens are sometimes working three jobs to pay their own way plus parents working well into retirement to help students with college. Enough is enough!