Friday, June 24, 2011 at 4:09 p.m.
From left to right: Angelica Hernandez, Debbie Robles and state Senator Steve Gallardo urge passage of the DREAM Act
Even though Angelica Hernandez graduated as valedictorian from Arizona State University's mechanical engineering school this past May, she won't be rewarded with a career or a good job. This, because she is an undocumented immigrant.
However, she will be recognized in U.S. Congress for her hard work.
Hernandez, along with another member of the Arizona Dream Act Coalition
, a group of undocumented students who advocate for legislation that would allow them to legalize their status, will attend the first-ever hearing for the DREAM Act this Tuesday in U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.
Members of ADAC announced the news during a press conference today in downtown Phoenix, outside the local office for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Hernandez told New Times that she was contacted by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin's staff and asked to attend the proceeding.
"Durbin will be sharing my story when he speaks [at the hearing]," she says. "[He] will also recognize me as an outstanding DREAMer."
Hernandez's story, first reported by New Times
, quickly went viral and was picked up by several outlets. Her plight caught Durbin's eye, and he now plans to use her as an example of a student who would benefit from the passage of the DREAM Act.
This week New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez introduced an immigration reform bill in Congress to address the issue of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the country.
As part of the package, he has included the DREAM Act, which would create an opportunity for illegal immigrants who came to this country as children to obtain permanent residency, as long as they continue onto college or military service.
"It's an honor to be able to represent Arizona in Washington D.C.," Hernandez said, ecstatically.
State Senator Steve Gallardo was also at the conference and applauded Congressional Democrats for the move.
"I want to commend Senator Durbin for the hearing," Gallardo said.
Gallardo also had a message for President Obama and Congress that it is time to pass legislation, because so far there's only been "lip service" paid to immigration reform.
"They need to step up to the plate and do their job," he pointed out.
Debbie Robles, president of ADAC, called on President Obama to stop deporting illegal immigrants who can benefit from the DREAM Act. She insists that it is urgent the president lobby for the legislation, as potential candidates are "aging out."
That's because the average age that's often been considered as the cutoff for beneficiaries of of the DREAM Act is 30.
Under current immigration law, he was not eligible to become a U.S. Citizen or legal resident.
DREAM Activists say Obama needs to take this opportunity to persuade Latinos that they still matters to his administration. Especially after he failed on his promise to pass immigration reform in his first year as president.
"The DREAM Act has been held hostage in a political game," Hernandez explains. "That's why we are going to Washington D.C. to be able to demand accountability for all the promises that have been [made] to [us DREAMers]."