Marchers seek federal OK for illegal immigrants to enroll in universities

Posted March 23, 2010

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— Two students who were accepted to Duke University but weren't allowed to enroll because of their immigration status were among a group marching through North Carolina Tuesday in support of a federal law to allow illegal immigrants to enroll at universities nationwide.

The students are walking about 1,500 miles from Florida to Washington, D.C., to lobby for the proposed Federal Dream Act. The bill would give conditional citizenship to undocumented high school graduates who were brought to the U.S. before they turned 16, based on their college attendance or military service.

Dream Act would make students citizens Dream Act would make students citizens

"People's humanity should not be determined by a nine-digit number," said Juan Rodriguez, whose family immigrated from Cuba when he was 6.

"My father just wanted to give me and my siblings a better future, a better life," Rodriguez said.

Felipe Matos said his mother sent him to the U.S. from Brazil when he was 14.

"She got sick and she was a single mom, and the only thing that she could do was to send me over to the United States because that's where we had family," Matos said.

Both Rodriguez and Matos graduated in the top of their high school classes and were accepted to Duke. Then, a second letter from the university placed their acceptances on hold.

"You have all the qualities of a student that we are always looking for, but until you resolve your immigration status, unfortunately, we cannot allow you to register for classes," Rodriguez recalled the letter saying.

"I think that was one of the most discouraging things in my life," Matos said.

The students shared their stories during a rally at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. They plan to march in Raleigh next week and reach Washington by May.

William Gheen, organizer of Americans for Legal Immigration Political Action Committee, opposes the Federal Dream Act.

"It would reward illegal alien families that break our laws. It would encourage more illegal immigration to the United States, and Dream Act is an overt attempt by amnesty supporters to use children as political pawns to prey upon the taxed generosities of Americans," Gheen said.

Lucy Vasquez, executive director of Amigos Internacional, a Latino advocacy group based in Wilmington, said the students targeted by the legislation had no say in coming to the U.S. illegally and should be allowed to receive an education now that they live in the country.

"We're not saying that the laws have to be changed to include everybody without exception. We're asking that these children be given that opportunity to seek higher education," Vasquez said.

The University of North Carolina system allows illegal immigrants to enroll at its 16 university campuses, and the state Board of Community Colleges gave final approval last week to a new policy that would allow illegal immigrants to enroll at the 58 two-year public colleges in North Carolina.


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  • JohnB2012 Mar 24, 2010

    Even if they got their degrees, they still can't work here after they graduate.

    Round them up and send them home.

  • SWEET-N-SOUR Mar 24, 2010

    Why hasn't immigration picked these people up....they admitted their here illegal...they have broken the law!

  • kal Mar 24, 2010


  • ncguy Mar 24, 2010

    If those 2 guys were here for that long and did nothing to become legalized then it's their own fault.

    No Illegals!!!!
    I C E should march them right into a paddy wagon and send them to ATL to be deported!

  • ZIPPER RECURVE Mar 24, 2010

    Only in America, what use to be wrong is now right! Try this move in any other country??

  • Barely Mar 24, 2010

    Seriously? How is this even an issue? I mean all they are doing is breaking the law. How sad have things gotten when illegal aliens are considered to have the same rights as American citizens. Why even bother becoming a citizen when you can just complain about everything, live off taxpayer dollars, and not have to pay taxes yourself?

  • ratherbnnc Mar 24, 2010

    I say send them all back home!!

  • deton8tor Mar 24, 2010

    If they know they are illegal why haven't they been arrested and deported? I'm sorry but we simply cannot afford to let anyone who chooses to come and live in this country. I'm sorry that their own countries suck so bad that they feel they have to leave it, but this lifeboat (the USA) is in danger of sinking already and we can't afford to let more people on the boat or it will swamp and we all drown. That's the practical side of it. The principal side is of course that they have broken into this country illegally and should not be able to reap any benefits from their actions.

  • smith999542 Mar 23, 2010

    Deport them all....

  • smith999542 Mar 23, 2010

    Let them walk all they want..I had to do it the legal way when I got here..They should do the same..Trash like that should be deported...