A local student and activist will be among a dozen from across the state traveling to Washington, D.C., to push for immigration reform that supports undocumented youth who dream of U.S. citizenship and want to seek higher education.
The 12 students gathered in Seattle last week through the Washington Dream Act Coalition, and will travel over the weekend to meet with state representatives to make a case for the DREAM Act.
The "United We DREAM" campaign is expected to draw more than 400 students to the nation's capital from July 19-21 to push for the legislation. The group is working off momentum set in motion by a controversial law in Arizona that requires local police to check on immigration status.
Ariel Ruiz, a Whitman College student and Walla Walla High School graduate, will be among the students making a case for the DREAM Act, which has existed in some form for 10 years but has yet to pass.
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The DREAM Act is a proposal to grant temporary legal residency to children who were brought to the country illegally and have grown up most of their lives in the U.S. Specifically, the legislation would ease the transition from high school to college, and from college to careers, for youth whose immigration status makes it uncertain and complicated to pursue such ambitions.
It would apply only to youths who have lived in the country at least five years, have earned a high school degree or equivalent, have demonstrated good moral character, and plan to pursue higher education or join the military. Legal residency would be considered following a six-year period when students would have to complete their studies.
The Washington chapter of the DREAM Act Coalition is represented by more than 55 student activist and supporters from around the state.