As the debate on immigration reform continues in the US Senate, immigrants in Salt Lake City held a press conference and vigil Wednesday night urging Senator Orrin Hatch to support legislation that creates a path to citizenship and keeps families together.
The event was organized by the Salt Lake DREAM team, immigrant young people who want a chance to earn their citizenship through college or military service. In their stories, what you hear are dreams deferred.
“My family and I moved to the states when I was 6 years old,” Angelica Rodriguez says. “Growing up I always knew I was undocumented. I knew that I would later face hardships and limitations.”
Rodriguez says her dream was to serve in the military; she looked into the navy, the marines, the army.
“I took the practice exam but the only thing that was holding me back was the lack of social security number and a green card,” Rodriguez says tearfully.
A grandmother stands up to say her family has been torn apart. She is taking care of her daughter’s 5 children because her daughter was just deported. Then there is Sylvia Teresa Salguero - a mother of 3 - who wanted to be a nurse, but does not have the necessary documents. She still wants a college degree, but has not been able to get a legal job to pay for her schooling, until February this year when she found out she received deferred action status. With her new status, she can work legally.
“My will to continue my education is still inside of me,” Salguero says. “I’m 30 years old, soon to be 31. I still feel like I have to, I need to. I encourage all of our Utah Senators and Representatives to help fix in a positive, more productive and humane way the broken immigration system of this great nation, which I call home.”
Participants at the event were asked to write letters to Senator Orrin Hatch, who supported the comprehensive immigration bill passed in the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this week, but he has not committed to voting for it when it comes to the floor of the Senate for consideration.