Undocumented students inspired by Vargas

By Henni Espinosa, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Posted at Jul 01 2011 03:37 PM | Updated as of Jul 02 2011 06:32 AM


SAN JOSE, California - Dozens of students rallied at the Cesar Chavez Park in San Jose, California last night inspired to fight for immigration reform. Some of these students are undocumented --- but they feel no shame or fear in coming out now.

Katia Lopez was only 3 years old and Miguel Ortiz, 5, when their parents crossed the border from Mexico. While they consider America their home now, they said their opportunities here are limited because of their undocumented status.

Lopez said, "It's definitely harder because on top of going to school full-time, you have to work to pay for school."

Ortiz said, "You can't apply to a lot of colleges because in the back of your head, you can't afford it anyway."

They're fighting to be legalized in this country through the Dream Act --- and having Jose Vargas, an award-winning Filipino journalist to champion the causes of undocumented students --- only gives them more courage to come out.

Vargas came out as an undocumented immigrant and is now lobbying for the US Congress to pass the Dream Act.

Lopez said, "You have to risk everything, put everything on the line for change to happen."

Reynaldo Laban is not an undocumented student. But the Filipino high school student said Vargas inspired him to fight for the rights of undocumented students in this country.

He said, "I see my undocumented friends struggling so I want to make change for them. I want to help them."

Meantime, last night, in Union City, California, some 200 people attended a town hall meeting to push for the passage of the Dream Act.

Union City Councilwoman Pat Gacoscos led the passage of a resolution supporting the legalization of undocumented students.

Gacoscos said, "These students help our country. They are good students."

Lucy was only 2 and Samantha, 7, when their parents brought them here to America. They ended up overstaying their visas. They said Vargas shows the rest of America that undocumented students can become successful and productive members of society.

Samantha said, "That's what we want to show...that we are an asset to the community."

Lucy said, "It's great to know that there are people willing to put everything on the line to represent us."

For now, Lopez, Ortiz, Samantha and Lucy--along with the 700,000 undocumented students in America--can only hope that lawmakers will give them, and their new champion, Jose Vargas...a place in their adopted country.

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