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'Dreamer' speaks at Democratic National Convention

They're called Dreamers: those young, undocumented immigrants who would be eligible for legal status under the Dream Act. But the Dream Act has long been stalled in Congress, and young immigrants in New York and throughout the country are doing more to show their support for the bill.

New Yorkers who traveled to the Democratic National Convention may have seen a 27-year-old Latino woman on stage. She spoke to the convention on Sept. 5, marking the highest profile appearance so far by a Dreamer. Benita Veliz is a leader of the group, and she and other Dreamers have come out of hiding to show that their illegal status is nothing to be ashamed of.

Veliz was brought to the United States as a child. At the age of 16, she graduated as valedictorian of her high school class, and she earned a degree with a double major by the time she was 20. Yet, as she says, "I've had to live almost my entire life knowing I could be deported just because of the way I came here."

Many people in the Dreamer movement saw Veliz's appearance at the Democratic convention as a sign that President Obama will continue to work to pass the Dream Act in his second term. Other Dreamers want to apply more pressure, though.

On Sept. 4, 10 protesters were arrested not far from the convention. They are undocumented immigrants who travelled many miles to demand more help from President Obama. Specifically, they want to make it easier for immigrants to obtain legal status. It was noted that the protestors did not stop by the Republican convention in Tampa because it was believed the Republicans would not offer any help.

As the election season moves along, New York residents with immigration concerns will want to watch closely. It seems that, finally, much-needed immigration reform may be on the horizon, but only time (and policy) will tell.

Source: The New York Times, "A 'Dreamer' Addresses the Democratic Convention," Julia Preston, Sept. 6, 2012

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