The DREAM Act Might Be Dead, But These Kids' Hopes Are Not

They are American in everything but name. They can go to college in Texas and improve themselves. Doesn't matter. At the end of the day, they're just illegal immigrants without social security numbers or futures.

"The whole thing made me feel bad," he says, "because certain people had me on a pedestal and my friends did not know that I wasn't here legally. And when I told them, some of them were cool about it, but there were a couple of jerks who, when they'd see a construction crew, would say, 'Shouldn't you be out there working?' It was exactly my fears come true, because the reason I didn't tell anyone was because I was scared about what people might do and I was afraid of how people would view me. The whole thing really sucks.

"Growing up I played football," says Javier. "I started on offense and defense, and you start thinking that you're pretty cool and a somebody. And everybody else is real cool with you and inviting you to parties. In tenth grade, I remember thinking, 'This is it. I'm never going back to Mexico. This is my home, where I'm supposed to be.' It wasn't until after I graduated high school that I got a big fat slap in my face."

The slap was when Javier learned that while he could attend college, he could not legally get a job using his education after graduation.

Javier attracted the wrong kind of attention when he passed out fliers arguing for changes in U.S. immigration laws.
Keri Rosebraugh
Javier attracted the wrong kind of attention when he passed out fliers arguing for changes in U.S. immigration laws.
Erika Solis goes by another name in her office life.
Keri Rosebraugh
Erika Solis goes by another name in her office life.

Today, Javier is not so sure the United States feels like home anymore.

"Of course I want to stay here," he says, "and if the DREAM Act goes through, that will be great for me and so many others in my same situation. But if it doesn't go through, it just means I have this education that I can't do anything with here in the U.S."

chris.vogel@houstonpress.com

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