MIAMI (CBS4) — Although legislators in Washington D.C. voted down the Dream Act for a second time, many undocumented college students in South Florida are not giving up hope.
“If I give up all the fight that we’ve done, even though we didn’t get it, it’s like throwing it out,” said Vanessa Jaramillo, an undocumented immigrant. “I have goals in life and no matter what I’m still going to achieve them.”
Saturday’s vote against the Dream Act was a crushing blow to students like Jaramillo, who have campaigned hard for their freedom over the past year believing their hard work would result in the Act’s passage.
“It hit me hard,” she said.
The bill would have given college students or those in the military a path to citizenship if they came to the United States before the age of 16.
For Jaramillo, legalization would have been a reality if the bill had gone through. Her mother brought her to Miami from Colombia when she was just four years old. She’s grown up here and said deportation back to Columbia would be extremely foreign to her American way of life.
“If they send me back to Colombia, even though I was born there, it’s a land that I don’t know,” she said.
Jaramillo has been struggling to reach her goal of graduating college. Right now she is in her second year and can only afford to take one class per semester because she has to pay out of state tuition and her legal status makes her ineligible for financial aid.
“My mom pays for my classes and there are some semesters that she can’t pay,” Jaramillo said.
The prospects of reviving the Dream Act are not good right now. A new crop of legislators are stepping into office, most are against the legislation, but Jaramillo and many others like her said they will look forward to the next election to build support for their cause.