Published in The Notebook
Risking deportation, immigrant student activists are escalating their pressure on legislators to approve the DREAM Act.
“We did this because we have lobbied, sent letters and emails, made phone calls, and met with people in Congress. But we feel the Congress is not listening to us,” said María Marroquín, a student organizer with the campaign.
Similar actions have taken place in Arizona. In late May, three immigrant students were among those arrested after staging a sit-in at Senator John McCain’s office in Phoenix.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents did not have contact with the arrested students in either instance, but the activists know what could happen to them.
“All of the students were aware (of risk of deportation) and ready to stand up not only for themselves but for all the students,” Marroquín said. “They are aware of what can happen.”
Through a spokesperson, Senator Richard Durbin, one of the co-sponsors of the bipartisan bill, disapproved of these latest demonstrations.
“Today’s demonstrations by some DREAM Act supporters … crossed the line from passionate advocacy to inappropriate behavior. The tide of public opinion has long been on the side of the DREAM Act – it has broad bipartisan support in Congress and poll after poll shows that people of all political persuasion believe in its goals. Sen. Durbin believes that we will win this fight on the merits, not through public demonstrations or publicity stunts.”
But what is unfortunate, Marroquín said, is that students have to face deportation in order for Congress to pay attention.
“We believe it is inappropriate that they have taken 10 years to pass this bill and in the meantime they keep deporting students,” she said. “But if this is what it takes, we’ll risk even if it means deportation.”
The DREAM Act is a bipartisan legislation that would give qualifying undocumented youth a six-year-long conditional path to citizenship that requires completion of a college degree or two years of military service.
We featured Maríaback in November 2009, when she told the Notebook why this fight is personal for her.