Living the DREAM Act: Real Life Stories

December 3, 2010

There are more than 1.8 million young people in the U.S. who were brought to this country as young children and who have grown up in American communities and American schools. Yet when they graduate from high school, they find the doors to their future are shut. Without citizenship or legal residency, these young people are ineligible for federal student aid and may not even be able to enroll in college in some cases. 

Across the country, young people are sharing their stories, some anonymously, some bravely risking legal action. Here are some of their stories.

EBFrom Sen. Durbin (D-IL):

Eric Balderas just finished his freshman year at Harvard, where he is majoring in molecular and cellular biology. Eric's mother brought him to the United States from Mexico in 1994 when he was 4. Eric was valedictorian and student council president at his high school.

MAYRAayra Garcia was brought to the U.S. from Mexico by her parents in 1994, when she was 2. Mayra, is now 18. She is a member of the National Honor Society and she graduated from high school in the Spring of 2010 with a 3.98 GPA. She is the President of the Cottonwood Youth Advisory Commission in her hometown of Cottonwood Arizona. Mayra was awarded a scholarship to attend a prestigious university in California. In an essay about the DREAM Act, Mayra wrote:

"From the time I was intellectually capable of understanding its significance, my dream was to be the first college graduate in my immediate and extended family. ... College means more to me than just a four-year degree. It means the breaking of a family cycle. It means progression and fulfillment of an obligation."

"According to my mother, I cried every day in preschool because of the language barrier. By kindergarten, though, I was fluent in English. ... English became my way of understanding the world and myself. I used it to prove myself to a society that expected nothing more from me than a pregnant belly or a criminal record."

YVesYves Gomes was brought to the U.S. from India by his parents in 1994, when he was 14 months old. Yves is now 17. He is a member of the National Honor Society and he graduated from high school in the Spring of 2010 with a 3.8 GPA.

Read Yves' essay about his experiences >>

Read The Washington Post's story about Yves >>

IMAGEuan Gomez was brought to the U.S. from Colombia at the age of 2. He is currently majoring in finance at Georgetown University, which he is attending on scholarship.

Read more about Juan in a Washington Post Magazine cover story >>

Read the letter supporting Juan and the DREAM Act from Georgetown President John DeGioia >>

IMAGEMarie Gonzalez was brought to the U.S. from Costa Rica by her parents when she was 5. In 2008, she graduated from Westminster College in Missouri with a double major in political science and international business. Marie, one of the first Dreamers to speak out about her situation, testified in the House Judiciary Committee on May 18, 2007:

"No matter what, I will always consider the United States of America my home. I love this country. Only in America would a person like me have the opportunity to tell my story to people like you. Many may argue that because I have a Costa Rican birth certificate I am Costa Rican and should be sent back to that country. If I am sent back there, sure I'd be with my Mom and Dad, but I'd be torn away from loved ones that are my family here, and from everything I have known since I was a child."

Read more about Marie in this Washington Post op-ed >>

Find more stories of inspiring students on Sen. Durbin's site.

You'll also find first-hand stories at:

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