DREAM Act Opens Doors ‘To Be Something More’

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DREAM Act Opens Doors ‘To Be Something More’

Photo by: Abel cortez

Photo by: Abel cortez

Photo by: Abel cortez

Mexican nationals who are qualified for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program line up in the Old Administration Building at fresno city college to apply for their student visas, Mexican passports and work permits on Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012 the Mexican consulate in Fresno's mobile consulate program visted FCC with a estimated 240 students participate in first visit to FCC.( The Rampage/ Abel Cortez )

Story By: Patrick Forrest, Rampage Reporter

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Nineteen-year-old Fresno City College student Sara Hernandez says she is tired of being in the shadows.  Throughout her life, she has lived as an undocumented student in the U.S.

Now Hernandez wants to come out and become an example for others.  It’s for this reason she has joined other FCC students to create the Students Without Borders club at FCC to help students of all backgrounds adjust to the college experience.

“We decided to create a club because we don’t know all the people that are at this school who may need help,” said Hernandez. “Whether they are undocumented or just want help, we want to reach people and make a change. It’s not just for the undocumented. It is for the allies of the cause as well.”

Similar organizations have also been established across the Central Valley. One such organization is the Central Valley Dream Team. The Dream Team is made up of high school students, college students, parents and community activists and they fight to raise awareness on what they feel is pro-immigration laws.

“We started last September. And we try to focus on helping undocumented youth in the pursuit of higher education. We provide scholarships, open mic events, and other services, and it’s not only about undocumented students but any type of pro-immigration law,” said Grisanti Valencia, Central Valley Dream Team member.

The state of California and the U.S. do not have a completed form of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM). However, California currently has one piece of the DREAM Act that has been placed into law and another that will become active on Jan 1, 2013.

Currently an undocumented student can apply for private scholarships administered by the public colleges and universities in California. Once the new year starts, children who were brought into the U.S. before they were 16 years old without proper visas or immigration documentation will be able to apply for student financial aid benefits. The students need to have attended school on a regular basis and otherwise meet in-state tuition and GPA requirements.

To qualify for the benefits offered by the legislation, an individual must meet Assembly Bill 540 (AB 540) criteria. They must have attended a California high school for three or more full academic years although they do not need to be consecutive. They are also required to graduate from a California high school, attain a G.E.D. or pass the California High School Proficiency Exam (CHSPE).

Finally students must be currently enrolled in a college in California and file an affidavit stating that they will apply for legal residency as soon as possible. Students without borders and the Central Valley Dream Team understand that there is a lot of fear among undocumented individuals about coming out.

“It’s OK to be scared, but soon you have to get past that fear,” says Hernandez. “We have fear in our lives. And if more of us come out and we work together we can be stronger, so we can help and inform more people. So have faith and we can change things if we work together.”

For Hernandez and many other dreamers, the DREAM Act is a necessity, and also an issue of opportunity and equality.

“I’m really against injustice,” said Hernandez. “Even though truly we all are but when you feel it, when it’s an injustice against someone who is like you then it’s different. It touches you, and it makes you really want to do something about it.”

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