Undocumented students to rally, declare themselves

Temple for DREAM members will rally in Old City this week. Local youth plan to step out of the shadows and declare themselves as undocumented citizens at a Coming Out Rally in Old City planned

Temple for DREAM members will rally in Old City this week.

Local youth plan to step out of the shadows and declare themselves as undocumented citizens at a Coming Out Rally in Old City planned for this Thursday, Oct. 20.

Ana Peralta, a senior international business and marketing major, said she would participate in the Coming Out March that begins at the Liberty Bell and ends in front of the Immigration Court on Market Street.

“I hope that the rally brings awareness not only to politicians, but to the undocumented community so that they can see that other students are standing up for themselves and that others can do the same,” Peralta said.

Peralta said that, while there will be a lawyer present in the group, some students are still taking a risk by declaring their illegal status. If arrested, undocumented people can face jail time or deportation.

Peralta is also a representative for DreamActivist PA, which is comprised of undocumented youth fighting for the rights of the immigrant community and for the passage of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors, or DREAM Act, on both the state and federal levels.

The Pennsylvania DREAM Act, if passed, would allow undocumented youth, provided they meet many strict requirements, to pay in-state tuition rates at public institutions of higher education. A handful of other states have passed similar legislation.

Caroline Ezzo, president of Temple for a DREAM, said this topic “is right on the precipice of being a big issue in America.”

“As big as it is now it’s going to blow up in the next decade,” Ezzo said. “We all have our own opinions about what kind of immigration reform needs to happen, but it’s sort of undeniable that there are undocumented immigrants in this country and it is not a viable option to deport everybody.”

“I think a lot of people don’t understand the situation that [immigrants] are coming from,” added Allegra Guinan, a freshman fine arts major and Temple for a DREAM member.

Even though the U.S.  is currently in an economic downturn, for many immigrants “back home has way worse living conditions, there are no jobs,” Guinan said.

Members of Temple for a DREAM explained that there are many misconceptions about undocumented people in the country.

“The term illegal alien is totally designed to vilify undocumented citizens,” said Will Otto, junior computer science major and Temple for a DREAM member.

And that’s why Ezzo said putting a face to the “illegal alien” is so important.

“Undocumented people are seen as this separate entity, when they are really entrenched in our society,” Ezzo said. “I know some who went to my high school and have been in my classes. They are a part of our lives.”

Even though Pamela Linares, 2011 alumna and founder of Temple for a DREAM, went through the process of becoming a legal citizen after getting married, she still worries for members of her family who await citizenship. Linares was only eight months old when she arrived in America.

“It is not fair that the immigration system we live in is so broken that families who have been here for 20 plus years still cannot find a way to belong,” Linares said.

She said her parents have paid taxes throughout their years in America and during her time in school.

“I hope that the fear of the ‘unknown,’ as has been a repetition in American history, will diminish,” Linares said. “We are all Americans, whether we are recognized as such or not.”

Haley Kmetz can be reached at haley.kmetz@temple.edu.

8 Comments

  1. Hopefully immigration officials will be there to round up and subsequently deport these illegal aliens. If a bunch of 18 year-olds rallied to protest the drinking age and got drunk, they would be arrested for violating the law. I hope justice is swiftly issued this Thursday. Maybe fewer illegal aliens in class will open up seats for United States Citizens.

    Furthermore, there is no such thing as an “undocumented citizen.” That is codespeak for illegal alien.

  2. Let’s see what excuse ICE uses now. On Tv they use 1 helicopter , 6 agents on horseback, 5 agents on ATV’s, 8 agents on foot and 100 million dollars worth of towers and infrared cameras to capture one Illegal Alien. Now when 200 Illegal Aliens are handed to them they will sit on their @$$ and say “We don’t have the resources.”

  3. @Erik – You know that 18 year-olds “getting drunk” is code speak for illegal drunk criminals committing crimes. Throw them in prison! For the rest of their liiiivvvvveeeess!

  4. Not passing this act won’t limit illegal immigration. Passage, will promote intellectual standard of the US. And for those of you concerned with safety, the best way out of a cycle of crime and poverty, is an education.

  5. @ Erick. You clearly have no clue what the whole Dream Act is about. The people who would qualify for it would of had to be brought over to the United States without their consent. It was their parents’ decision, not theirs. They’ve lived in the U.S. for their entire life, they don’t know anywhere else. And deporting them, would be cruel. Because you would be taking them from the only home that they’ve had. They’ve got as much American pride as you do, because this country is what gave them a chance. And they’ve had to work for their part in this country, they weren’t just given it. And if they work their butts off to graduate high school, many of them at the top of their class, they DESERVE to go to college. And as for your little comment: “Maybe fewer illegal aliens in class will open up seats for United States Citizens.” You’re funny because tell me how many U.S. Citizens drop out of high school, or don’t care enough about it? A lot. if they don’t work for it, they don’t deserve to go to college just because their a U.S. citizen. I bet if you were in an illegal immigrants shoes, you wouldn’t be saying that. Get a life.

  6. These illegal alien “students” have every right and opportunity to pursue their college education in their nation of origin, including the right to apply for scholarships, grants, loans to finance such. No one is saying they shouldn’t go to college, they just don’t have a right to do so here if they are here illegally, and certainly have no right to demand that American taxpayers foot the bill for subsidized tuition breaks.

    And, yes, I do know about the immigration process. My parents came here LEGALLY and are proud naturalized citizens who respect the laws of this nation. We expect everyone else to do the same no matter their nation of origin.

    The DREAMERs are selfish. Aren’t they aware of the econonic situation our nation is in right now? Many citizens have had to postpone college plans, go to less expensive schools, work more to finance their college education. There is no justification for granting a benefit to illegal aliens that is not available to U.S. citizens from neighboring states or not available to foreign nationals who are here on student visas.

  7. The world-class National Autonomous University in Mexico is FREE to all Mexican nationals. There should not be one single Mexican illegal alien complaining about the DREAM Act when they can go to college in Mexico for FREE. Period.

  8. Unfortunately I am an “alien” as it described. I graduated in 2011 and I got accepted by penn state but I called their admission office and they keep asking me for a driver license or green card. So I know I am not going to be in penn state because I am undocumented. So i decided to work and 9 months later I want to go to college so I keep searching to see if I can go to any colleges in pa. Can anyone tell me do temple take undocumented student? If they do I will try to apply.

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