PALMDALE — The City Council unanimously voiced its support for the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019, proposed federal legislation that is part of a longstanding effort to provide a roadmap to legalization and eventual U.S. citizenship for undocumented youth.
The legislation, pending in the House of Representative, applies to people who have or are eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, also known as “Dreamers,” people who had or were eligible for temporary protected status, among others.
A handful of Antelope Valley College students shared their stories of coming to this country as children as undocumented immigrants and urged the Council’s support for the legislation.
One example was Jorge Gutierrez, who came to this country from Mexico at age 11, and knew from the beginning he was undocumented, even though he didn’t understand the implications.
“I never really understood why my family came here,” he told the Council, until he was in high school and learned of the violence in his home country. “I came to realize my parents probably saved my life.”
Although a top-notch student, he was unsure he would go to college until the DACA program provided a path to work and go to school, he said.
He is now a 4.0 student in his third year at Antelope Valley College and has been accepted into the nursing program.
He said there are about 500 undocumented students at Antelope Valley College now who would benefit from the legislation, as well as many thousands more not yet in school.
The item was part of the consent agenda at Tuesday’s meeting, in which items are generally voted on in a single block, without additional discussion. However, members of the public may comment on any of the items before the Council votes.
Councilman Juan Carrillo placed the resolution in support of the legislation on the agenda. The Council has approved similar resolutions in 2017 and 2016.
“I want to commend those who came and spoke,” he said of the students. “It does take courage to come and speak in public and speak before a government.”
Carrillo himself was undocumented when he arrived in this country at age 15 from Mexico, following his parents. “I know what you’re going through, I know what it’s like,” he said.
They had similar goals to gain an education, get jobs and be productive citizens. “That’s what this is all about,” he said.
“My dream was to get an education, my dream was to have a family, and I am serving now my community, not only in an elected capacity, but as a public servant,” Carrillo said. “I am proud of what I have accomplished. I am sure if you don’t give up the fight, if you have a dream, you make a plan, you will be successful.”