Miami student leader reveals he is an undocumented migrant – Colombian José Salcedo

Nineteen-year-old José Salcedo, Colombian born; took a stand Wednesday that may turn out to be a milestone in his life and in the struggle for legalization by undocumented immigrants.

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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.

STALLED

The landmark legislation, stalled in Congress for years, would give green cards to foreign students brought to the country illegally by their parents when they were babies, toddlers or teenagers. Salcedo said his mother brought him here when he was 9 to escape threats and extortion by paramilitary forces.

It is one piece of the comprehensive immigration reform package that many lawmakers now believe is nearly impossible to pass given the Nov. 2 election that gave Republicans control of the House of Representatives and increased their numbers in the Senate as of January.

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.

But the study also said that far fewer, perhaps no more than 825,000, would be able to meet the bill’s education or military service requirements.

Opponents of the legalization are gearing up to prevent the DREAM Act from becoming law.

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.

BIG DREAMS

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 last time the DREAM Act came up for a vote was in September when the legislation surfaced as an amendment to a Defense Authorization bill.

The amendment failed on a procedural vote, but the possibility of reviving the legislation cropped up again Tuesday when President Obama received several Hispanic lawmakers and expressed interest in pushing the bill during the lame-duck session.

Source: Alfonso Chardy – El Nuevo Herald

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