Chants echoed down Bruin Walk on Wednesday afternoon when more than 40 students gathered to observe the National Back to School DREAM Act Day of Action at Meyerhoff Park.
The Federal Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act is a proposal to create a pathway to legalization for undocumented students who came to the United States as minors.
“We wanted to start off the school year by trying to raise awareness about the DREAM Act and what it means for undocumented students,” said Jacqueline Dan, a third-year UCLA law student pursuing immigration law.
Like most students, Dan’s involvement in the rally and efforts to pass the DREAM Act stem from a personal story.
“I had a friend who helped me a lot when I first moved here from Texas for graduate school. But he was undocumented and couldn’t afford to pay the college tuition so he moved to Canada. I’m participating today to help students like him,” Dan said.
The rally was organized by many organizations on campus under the coalition Alliance of Dreams, which is headed by the student advocacy group Improving Dreams, Equality, Access and Success.
Among those in the Alliance of Dreams is the Undergraduate Students Association Council president’s office.
“My office has made the DREAM Act a priority this year. Last night we passed a resolution during the USAC council meeting supporting the Federal DREAM Act,” said USAC President Cinthia Flores.
“Education is an investment worth investing in,” she added.
Flores went on to say that she believed the DREAM Act is part of the solution to spearhead economic recovery in the country, a point rarely discussed in the discussion of legalizing undocumented students.
“Undocumented students will be able to work in their respective professional fields which will in turn help the economy,” Flores said.
During the rally, various students gave testimonials about their undocumented status.
“Being an undocumented student is more than a title, it’s a lifestyle,” said Zyshia Williams, a first-year global studies student.
“We are not here to waste time. We want to study and make our dreams a reality.”
Although the DREAM Act has been introduced and defeated in Congress before, students at the rally seemed optimistic about its passing this year.
“We have a really good chance to see this through, and I’m very confident we can make this happen,” said Eder Gaona, a fourth-year political science student and co-chair of IDEAS.
Towards the end of the rally students were encouraged to call the office of Congressman Xavier Becerra of the 31st district of California to urge him to co-sponsor the DREAM Act.