Undocumented Students Pushing for a DREAM

Some state senators in Arizona also think the legislation is a step in the right direction and are pushing for overhaul.

"The fact is that these kids didn't get to make a decision whether to stay in their home country or come here," Democratic state representative Kyrsten Sinema said. "In all appearances and practices -- they're Americans -- in everything except for the paperwork."

Daniel said he is lucky in many ways that he has not been forced to leave the country, unlike Oscar Vasquez, who was deported last summer. Vasquez graduated from Arizona State University in May 2009 with a degree in mechanical engineering. He was recognized as one of the top students in his class in front of Obama at the university's commencement ceremony.

But he was here illegally. And soon after graduating, he was deported back to Mexico, even though he had lived in the United States since he was 6. He left behind a wife and young daughter and immediately tried to come back into the United States but was denied. Vasquez was told he'd have to wait another 15 months before he could try again.

Immigration Debate Heats Up

"The biggest thing is that we're apart," Vasquez said, speaking by phone from northern Mexico. "I speak to my family every month or so online and every time I see my daughter she's way different. It's hard."

It's unclear if Vasquez, 23, will be able to return to the United States, so in the meantime, he works a minimum wage job in Mexico. "If I was back in the states, I'd be making five times as much as I am here," Vasquez said.

But not everyone feels that an easier path to citizenship will solve what some see as an underlying immigration issue.

Kristopher Perkins, 26, who is training to be a firefighter, has lived in Phoenix his entire life. He has witnessed the back-and--forth arguments within the immigration debate firsthand and thinks that by passing an act like this, people from other countries will have more incentive to try to cross the border illegally.

"If Mexican parents with newborns knew their kids could get an easier life in America with this law, how many more illegal immigrants will try to rush the border in hopes their kids will make it?" he asked. "The DREAM Act has good intentions but the passing of it would only hurt the U.S."

'They Deserve a Chance to Participate'

But Carmen Cornejo, a political activist with the grass-roots group known as CADENA, has been involved with the DREAM movement for several years. She said that the children should not be punished for their parents' decision to bring them across the border.

"They don't have the same opportunities as other students do," Cornejo said. "These students can also be subjected to detention, incarceration, mistreatment and deportation by immigration authorities, which is just horrendous. A number of these students in the community are valedictorians at their high schools. They are bright and they deserve a chance to participate in this country freely."

And even some staunch anti-illegal immigration lawmakers have recognized that the DREAM movement is gaining steam.

Making Accommodations

"The one thing I think most people on both sides of this issue agree on, is that some accommodation must be made for DREAM Act kids," said Republican Arizona state representative John Kavanagh, who usually supports anti-illegal immigration legislation.

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