Juan of Words

The Story Of Rodolfo: Holding Out For A DREAM Act

Original photo by German Garcia

Back in the day when I was a staff writer for a newspaper startup, circa 2004, I met Rodolfo Salazar – a local kid who wanted nothing more than to gain legal status in order to better himself and his mother’s life in this country.

They were both undocumented at that point, with little hope of any path to legalization.  He a recent high school graduate, hopeful about his future, hopeless about any degree he could eventually obtain just becoming another piece of paper to hang on the wall, and scared that at any moment he or his mother could be deported – his mother never having earned minimum wage since entering the country.  Their story really touched me.  This is how long we’ve been holding out for the DREAM Act.

Now again we’re told the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act is finally headed for a vote before the Senate as early as next week.  This time pushed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, basically reviving an almost dead piece of legislation that for years has had thousands of undocumented undergrads and college grads sitting and waiting for something to happen so they can put their education to good use.  They can’t get a job in their professions because they don’t have legal status, and they can’t get legal status because they’re undocumented.

Quite the conundrum!

The DREAM Act would provide a means for eventual legalization for students who complete a college degree or enlist in the U.S. Military.

Even though we never stayed in touch I’ve always wondered what happened to Rodolfo and his mom.  I hope he went after his dream.  I hope he has a college degree now.  I hope his mother hasn’t lost faith. I hope these words are no longer their truth:

“Their parents left it all behind to offer them a better life here, but now these new generations of undocumented immigrants are facing the cruel reality that because they were not born in this country they cannot achieve their goals.” 
Subtitle from the original article

“We feel a part of this country.  If something bad happens here, we feel it too,”  Rodolfo Salazar

“From just making enough to pay my rent I’ve never progressed. Hopefully this law will be approved, to help him.  Since for me, there really is no more hope.”   Rodolfo’s mother

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