Dreamers from Central Florida head to D.C. to lobby for Clean DREAM Act
Dec. 06--Liliana Alvarez was not going to let a sprained ankle stop her from going on this trip -- especially when it affects her livelihood.
Alvarez is one of about 50 Dreamers and allies who boarded a bus Tuesday evening in Apopka on their way to Washington to urge Congress to pass the Clean DREAM Act. The legislation would create a pathway to citizenship for 2.1 million young undocumented immigrants. Thousands of people are expected to be in D.C. on Wednesday to do the same thing.
Alvarez, 22, will use a wheelchair and crutches to get around. The group plans to spend the day lobbying lawmakers before heading back to Central Florida on Wednesday night.
She said going to Washington is important for her and her family's peace of mind -- sprained ankle or not. "I know it's going to be worth it," she said.
Her parents brought her to the U.S. from Mexico when she was 2.
"I don't know any other country," she said. "This is my life."
Those who would benefit from the DREAM Act must have been in the U.S. for at least four years, graduate from high school, join the military and/or work. They also must pass background checks.
Recipients could obtain "lawful permanent resident status" after eight years and apply for citizenship five years after that.
For 24-year-old Daniel Franco, the bill's passage would give him peace of mind. He came with his mother from Mexico when he was 7 and said he remembers the trip being hard, but he knew his mother wanted a better life for him.
His legal status ends in May. Not knowing what comes next is tough for him and his family.
"You don't know if your family member's coming home," Franco said, adding that it's "inhumane."
"It's a constant fear," he added. "It's not a pleasant thing."
The trip was arranged by Hope CommUnity Center in Apopka, along with the Florida Immigrant Coalition and Fair Immigration Reform Movement.
Alex Saunders, director of community relations at Hope, said the trip is a sort of pilgrimage.
"This truly affects the livelihoods of everyone going," he said. "They've been promised by both sides of the political spectrum that this could happen."
Franco hopes he can help more people than just himself.
"I'm going as a Dreamer not just for my dream," he said, "but for the dreams of many." email@example.com, 407-420-5471 or @DavidHarrisOS