Magazine article New York Times Upfront

Should Benita Veliz Be Deported? an American-in-Waiting Needs the Dream Act. So Does America

Magazine article New York Times Upfront

Should Benita Veliz Be Deported? an American-in-Waiting Needs the Dream Act. So Does America

Article excerpt

How will this country be a better place once we force Benita Veliz to leave it?

Veliz, 23, is an illegal immigrant facing deportation, but she is not a criminal or a drain on public funds. In fact, she's a hard-working college graduate from San Antonio who is bursting with ambition--and dreams that she has set aside because her paths to achieve them have all been closed.

Immigration lawyers have told her that she has no hope of avoiding deportation.

Veliz is here illegally, but not by choice. She came from Mexico with her parents in 1993, when she was 8, on a tourist visa. She had never lived in the U.S. before and has lived nowhere else since. By all measures, she is an American, a Texan.

And an impressive one at that. She was valedictorian at Jefferson High School, graduating at 16. She went to St. Mary's University in San Antonio on a full scholarship, double-majored in biology and sociology, volunteered at a hospital, and waited tables.

Her honors thesis was about the Dream Act, a bill that would allow children of illegal immigrants to earn citizenship after going to college or serving in the military. The idea is that America should not expel, but assimilate dedicated young people who are not at fault for their illegal status. The Dream Act seeks to make citizens out of people like Veliz. Bipartisan Dream Act bills have been introduced in Congress, but their future is uncertain.

Veliz wanted to go to law school, but couldn't afford tuition and didn't qualify for federal loans. …

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