Demonstrators urge Sen. LeMieux to support the DREAM Act
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06/09/10 Kate Bradshaw
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Two of the signs posted near George LeMieux's Tampa office


photo by Kate Bradshaw, WMNF

Today demonstrators in three Florida cities urged US Senator George LeMieux to cosponsor the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors, or DREAM Act. Tampa was one of these. The act would give conditional residency to some undocumented students who were brought to the US as minors if they go to college or join the military. Currently, many are subject to deportation. Jessica Sanchez with Students Working for Equal Rights organized the Tampa event.

The bill was first proposed in 2001. US Senator from Illinois Dick Durbin is its principal sponsor. Sanchez said so far, Senator LeMieux’s response has been lukewarm because he wants more sweeping reform.

Sanchez said that the demonstrators are also calling on the senator to call for more support of migrant farmworkers many of whom are undocumented. She said the DREAM Act and supporting farmworkers go hand in hand.

Anna, who didn’t give a last name, is a recent graduate from a high school in Lakeland. She was brought to Florida from Mexico by her uncle to be with her mother, who was working the fields. She was only six, but says she remembers the border crossing.

She says she wants to go to college and eventually start a business but that picking tomatoes is her only option.

Anna says that getting deported to Mexico would mean having to adjust to a culture she never really got to know.

Enrique, who also declined to give a last name, said the key factor here is the fact that these students didn’t exactly have a choice when they came across the border.

The DREAM Act is a bi-partisan bill. Indiana Senator Richard Luger is among its Republican supporters. Jessica Garcia, a spokesperson for Senator LeMieux, a Republican, said the Florida Senator fears unintended consequences the bill might have.

Today marks the second week of a hunger strike taking place outside Senator Charles Schumer’s office. Schumer heads the Senate Immigration Subcommittee. Meanwhile, Federal immigration officials are proposing to increase the fees to apply for legal U.S. residency to nearly $1,100, but would leave existing citizenship application fees intact. Today’s other protests took place in Miami and Fort Lauderdale.

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