‘Trail Of Dreams’ Immigration March to D.C. Starts in Miami Jan. 1

Jason Kane, South Florida Sun Sentinel (Ft. Lauderdale), Dec. 23, 2009

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On Jan. 1, four young people will lace up their sneakers and head north from Miami toward the nation’s capital along U.S. 1. The group hopes that each step will bring more attention to the fact that thousands of undocumented individuals, many who have lived in the U.S. since they were small children, are barred each year from continuing their education in the U.S.

Guerra Casas, also one of the organizers, plans to walk with them from Hobe Sound to Fort Pierce.

“The purpose of all this is to let the American people, Congress and the president know that we are no longer afraid of being undocumented–that we are going to show who we are,” he said. “We are coming out of the shadows.”

They’re calling it the Trail of Dreams, and the youth–associated with Students Working for Equal Rights and supported by the Florida Immigrant Coalition and Reform Immigration for America–plan to complete their trek to the National Mall by May 1.

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The travelers would like to be joined in Washington by 100,000 supporters who will rally for the passage of the Development, Relief and Education Act for Alien Minors, or the DREAM Act.

The bill was introduced in both chambers of Congress in March with the intention of providing undocumented immigrant students who fit certain criteria a chance to earn conditional permanent residency.

Each year, tens of thousands of high school graduates can’t pursue higher education because of their immigration status. The proposed legislation would put them on a conditional path to citizenship in exchange for the completion of a college degree or two years of military service.

But in an interview with USA Today, Ira Mehlman, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which advocates less immigration, said the DREAM Act rewards “people who have broken the law with immigration benefits.”

Additionally, the walkers would like to see the passage of legislation that would prevent undocumented individuals from being separated from their families.

Only four individuals have signed up for the entire 1,052-mile trip, but hundreds–like Guerra Casas–will join them for small stretches.

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