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.
Salcedo’s disclosure came as some students here and across the country mobilized one day after President Obama promised to push for a DREAM Act vote in the lame-duck Congress.
Salcedo, an international law student, said he decided to reveal his lack of immigration status because he wanted to make a point about how crucial the legislation is to the future of hundreds of thousands of undocumented students like him.
“For 10 years I’ve been scared to come out of the shadows,” Salcedo told the rally.
“This is the first time I speak in public telling a crowd that I’m undocumented.”
A recent study by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) in Washington estimated that slightly more than 2.1 million undocumented youths could be eligible to apply for legal status under the DREAM Act if it passes.
In Washington, NumbersUSA and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) warned supporters a vote on the DREAM Act was coming.
NumbersUSA is telling supporters to call their lawmakers and urge them to vote against the DREAM Act if the bill comes up during the lame-duck session.
FAIR issued a statement calling the DREAM Act the “illegal alien student amnesty bill.”
To Salcedo and other undocumented students the DREAM Act is the only path they have to advance their careers in the United States.
Without the DREAM Act, Salcedo can’t go very far after he graduates since he can’t get a work permit or a green card.
But if the DREAM Act passes, Salcedo has big dreams. He wants to become a citizen, join the military and become a politician.
“I would love to join the military and once I come back I would like to run for public office–mayor of the city of Miami,” Salcedo said. “Start off small and pull my way up.”
The student body president at Fresno State has revealed a big secret with potentially life-changing consequences.
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.
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.
Ramirez says he would have preferred to reveal his secret in a different way but fear kept him in hiding until now.
“When you lie or when you hold something back or you hold it in. It kind of blinds you and you don’t know what to do. So coming out of the shadows and telling people what I am and what I’ve been through you know it’s a big relief for me.” said Ramirez.
Ramirez says he is also aware that there could be severe consequences to coming clean including the possibility of being deported. But for now, he’s just focused on getting his degree in the spring.