Jose Salcedo, The DREAM Act

On Wednesday, as a keynote speaker at a student rally at Miami Dade College's InterAmerican campus in Little Havana, he revealed that fact, surprising many of his listeners.

Following his speech, Salcedo, along with other students, wore tape over their mouths, with the letters ''ICE'' written on it - the acronym for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The Colombia-born Salcedo is Student Government Association president at the InterAmerican campus, student representative on the Board of Trustees for Miami Dade College and a member of the school's Honors College, one of 550 elite students.

His revelation, which came one day after President Obama promised to push for a DREAM Act vote in the lame-duck Congress, may indeed be not only a milestone in his life, but in the struggle for legalization by undocumented immigrants.

The DREAM Act

After meeting with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on November 16th, the White House released a statement expressing Pres. Obama's desire for passage of the DREAM Act before the 111th Congress adjourns at the end of the year. The President also urged passage of a mass amnesty bill, but didn't provide a timeline.

According to the White House's readout of the November 16th meeting, the President and the CHC leaders believe that, before adjourning, Congress should approve the DREAM Act.

The DREAM Act would offer an amnesty to illegal aliens who attend college or serve in the military, but would open the door for massive legal immigration through Chain Migration and encourage future incentives for more illegal immigration.

The DREAM Act, the landmark legislation that has been stalled in Congress for years, would give green cards to foreign students brought to the country illegally by their parents when they were babies, toddlers or teenagers. Per the article at miamiherald.com, Salcedo said his mother brought him here when he was 9 to escape threats and extortion by paramilitary forces.

It is one piece of the comprehensive immigration reform package that many lawmakers now believe is nearly impossible to pass, due to the November 2nd election that resulted in Republicans controlling the House of Representatives and increasing their numbers in the Senate as of January.

Salcedo wanted to reveal his lack of immigration status because he wanted to make a point about how crucial the legislation is to the future of hundreds of thousands of undocumented students like him.

According to the article, Salcedo was quoted as saying at the rally: ''For 10 years I've been scared to come out of the shadows. This is the first time I speak in public telling a crowd that I'm undocumented.''

If the DREAM Act passes, according to a recent study by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) in Washington, an estimated 2.1 million plus undocumented youths could be eligible to apply for legal status. However, the study also said maybe only 825,000 would be able to meet the bill's education or military service requirements.

Opponents of the legalization are gearing up to prevent the DREAM Act from becoming law.

In Washington, NumbersUSA, an organization that advocates lower immigration levels in the United States, and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), an organization of concerned citizens who share a common belief that the nation's immigration policies must be reformed to serve the national interest, warned supporters that a vote on the DREAM Act was coming.

NumbersUSA is telling supporters to call their lawmakers and urge them to vote against the DREAM Act if the bill comes up during the lame-duck session.

FAIR issued a statement calling the DREAM Act the ''illegal alien student amnesty bill.''

However, the DREAM Act is the only path Salcedo and other undocumented students have to advance their careers in the United States.

Without the DREAM Act, Salcedo can't go very far after he graduates since he can't get a work permit or a green card. But if it passes, Salcedo said, ''I would love to join the military and once I come back I would like to run for public office — mayor of the city of Miami,'' Salcedo said. ''Start off small and pull my way up.''

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