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U.S. silver medalist born in Mexico celebrates with two flags

A Dream Act Olympian made his dreams come true by achieving his permanent residency and representing America at the London games. Leo Manzano earned the U.S. its first medal in the 1,500-meter race last week for the first time since 1968.

Brought to this county when he was 4 years old by his parents, Manzano had to work to help pay the bills starting in middle school. He was the first of his family to earn a high school diploma. He won nine state running championships and eventually received a full athletic scholarship to a prestigious university.

After waiting 10 years, Manzano achieved his permanent resident status in 2004. Thanks to the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, his parents did too. As such, the world-class runner was allowed to represent the U.S. in both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. He took his celebratory lap around the track last week carrying both the U.S. and Mexican flags. Much to the chagrin of many, unfortunately.

Without the Dream Act, many students and young children brought to this country by their parents would not be able to achieve their dreams like Manzano did. Without legal residency, athletes would not be able to travel in and out of the U.S. for competitions. They aren't able to receive scholarships or federal student financial aid. However, in Manzano's home state, undocumented students are eligible for in-state tuition if they graduate from high school in that state.

There are more than one million people that will be affected by the passing of the Dream Act. Until that happens, the Obama administration announced that young, undocumented students will not be deported while they await permanent status.

To learn more about this issue, please visit our Staten Island, New York, immigration law firm web site.

Source:, "'Dream Act Olympian' Leo Manzano Wins Silver," Tania Lara, Aug. 13, 2012

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