September 21st, 2010
11:44 AM ET

Student's 'DREAM,' last hope rests on Senate vote

Yahaira Carrillo and other students take part in news conference promoting the Dream Act.

When Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he would be introducing the DREAM Act and a “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal as amendments to the defense authorization bill it sent shockwaves through political and immigration circles. Before those two additions can be voted on, the Senate must agree to close debate on the larger defense bill - something that may not happen.

GOP senators, in addition to frustrations with the possible “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal, also dislike Reid's plan to add the DREAM act, an immigration-related provision to the defense bill.

The DREAM Act would create a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who entered the United States as children. Under the bill, an individual would have to be of “good moral character” and either receive a college degree or complete at least two years of U.S. military service. Yahaira Carrillo is a college student who, while in high school, participated in Jr. ROTC, while dreaming of becoming a United States Marine.

“I wanted to be in uniform,” she told CNN, but she quit ROTC when a Captain-classmate warned that her undocumented status would bar her from joining the Marines.

The 25-year-old college senior is currently in deportation proceedings, but if the Dream Act became law she could earn U.S. citizenship.

“This is where I want to be.” Carrillo told CNN’s Dick Uliano. “I want to be here. I don’t want to be anywhere else.”

Listen to Carillo's story here:

Or you can also listen to the CNN Radio Reports' podcast on iTunes or subscribe to the podcast here.

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Filed under: Harry Reid • Immigration • Politics
soundoff (456 Responses)
  1. DLM

    would these students be the same group who in 2006 skipped class to attend protest in California and Dallas? The ones who proudly waved the Mexican flag as they skipped class and marched downtown?

    September 21, 2010 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Reen

    NANCY- I would like to let you know that i'm 100% legal. Born and raised in AMERICA. ALSO im too yound to benifit from illegals. YOU don't know how to read obviously because the bill states THE COLLEGE TUITION WILL NOT BE PAID FOR by tay money!!! so im guessing that you think that kids who recieve federal money for college tuition are breaking the law. since thats tax payers money!! and those who recieve it DONT DESERVE YOUR MONEY!

    September 21, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nancy

      Reem – I don't care what the bill says. Your in la-la land if you think it will not end up on the taxpayers plate. Just where do you think the money is coming from. Every dollar this Government spends is taxpayer dollars. If you believe what you just stated – i have a bridge in Arizona I can sell you....Please don't be so gullible!!

      September 21, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nancy


      I may not how to read (according to you), but you need to learn to write. What does this mean: ALSO im too yound to benifit from illegals.

      September 21, 2010 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Anevay

    If they were brought here as children then obviously they would have had to attend school and to qualify for a program I am sure as sh!t positive that they will need to bear proof that they have been here as a child. It is pretty hard these days for children not in school to go unnoticed. I don't think DREAM act is going to take "yes i was here as a kid give me my education" as an answer. And everyone please, lets remember there are far more immigrants here than Latinos so stop pinning this DREAM act on them, let your hatred for hispanics dissapate so that you can see through the fog and notice that other immigrants are milking our system in more ways than one. You can't even get an engineering job in Ca because they hire Indians before they even get their green cards.

    September 21, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • texaslady2

      Sure there are illegal aliens from all over the world, BUT according to the Pew Hispanic Center's study last year, 57% of ALL illegal aliens are from Mexico; 24% are from other Latino countries, and only 19% are from the rest of the world COMBINED! 81% of ALL illegal aliens are Latino, so it's not prejudice to talk about illegal immigration mostly in Latino terms, it's simply statistically accurate.

      September 21, 2010 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Nancy

    Karla – THANK YOU for your intelligent comments. You said it all!!!

    September 21, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. CC


    September 21, 2010 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Nancy

    Soldier – so are you illegal or legal. And, I wouldn't brag about anything that Jesse Jackson gives away....

    September 21, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Met

    I am the daughter of illegal immigrants, and I too, came illegally to the United States at age 10. Last year, I was accepted to one of the best universities in the World- MIT- with a full ride, paid for by the alumni. A 50,000 annual academic scholarship that pays for my tuition, my housing, my health care plan, and my books. For four years, with a chance to extend it to my PhD studies.

    Yet, because I am the daughter of illegal immigrants I cannot attend.

    Nancy, I understand your position. But as a born-American, you too, have to step back, forget prejudices, and think about the thousands of students- students like me- who were not at fault when coming to the United States but who now have to pay the consequences. What child, when witnessing their parents, would say: "No mom, no dad, I am not coming with you. I am staying here because that's the legal thing to do." A child only wants to be with his or her parents, it's a child.

    In high school, many doors were closed to me. As an illegal alien, I couldn't get a job, I couldn't get an internship, I couldn't get financial aid or the vast majority of scholarships. But on weekends, I woke up early and took 2 buses to a nearby city that offered free SAT prep. On weekdays, I woke up early to go to school because I was Class President and I had 760 students to fund-raise for. I started a food and cloth drive for Haiti. I started a project to send green energy to under-developed villages in the world.

    Now, I am on the verge of my dream. I want to go to school to study mathematics and theoretical physics, and eventually start an global charity the likes of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. I have so many dreams and so much hope for the American people- my people, because I grew up here and I very much love this country and consider myself an American. I am asking you, and the American public to give me the chance to give back to the country that, though despite the many doors closed to me, still made me who I am today.

    Let's forget prejudices and let's forget anger, and give opportunity to these students who will one day graduate and give back to our society and to our economy.

    September 21, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alan

      Congratulations Met.

      I can definitely applaud your accomplishments. If in fact though it is your dream to to school to study mathematics and theoretical physics, then I would suggest going back to your country and applying for a student visa and coming back to this country legally.

      September 21, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Asian

      Why can't you apply for F1 student visa. MIT will give you I-20 form in 5 minutes now that you have admission.

      Either you're a fake; if you're not and really have admission offer from MIT go and get an international student visa. It's easy.

      September 21, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Krow

      You're not the only one Met.
      When I was 9 years old I was brought to this country by my parents. I had very little knowledge of the English language and even less of American culture.
      I was in the ESL program for 4 months that I was in 5th grade. After this I spoke the English language as fluently as a 5th grader can, but that's when it all started.
      Middle school I graduated top 10% of my class with many awards.
      In high school I graduated top 10% of my class. Had a 4.0 GPA and participated in many clubs and activities, I had cords for National Art Honors Society and The Music Honors Society.
      I am a musician, an artist, and a lover of science.
      All of my classes after 6th grade were Honors or AP (If available).
      I am currently a freshman in a local university. My parents are working 2 jobs each 7 days a week just to pay for my education. I'm pursuing a B.S. in Biology and hopefully when i'm done I can study to be an M.D. with specialization in Immunology and Virology.
      But before anyone of you tell me that I am stealing my education, why don't you look at the bigger picture first?
      I pay out-of-state tuition, my family and I have to pay for all my books, my housing, and everything else that comes at my way. I have absolutely no right to apply for federal scholarships and I receive absolutely no form of financial aid.
      Why I do resent the fact that I was brought here illegally, it's a reality that I have to live with every day.
      My friends are American, I speak english with them and at home. I also have a background in french, Italian, Classical Latin (Virgil), and i've recently picked up Finnish.
      In this growing world shouldn't we be rewarding effort? Shouldn't we as human beings be rewarding the plight of those people, who when faced with discrimination and challenges, push through to the best of their abilities regardless of the challeneges presented before them?
      Telling me that I don't deserve an education because of something I didn't chose to do does not sound at all fair.
      Why don't you focus on what I have done, and tell me that you would rather spend your money making sure that the kids that spend their time partying and slacking, the ones who gave no effort to make it through school, the ones who instead of reading a book used it for rolling papers, tell me that they deserve your tax money more than some of us, who inspite out inability to succeed, attemp to anyway.
      So instead of hoping that all immigrants that came here without a choice are sent back, why don't you look around at your local high school and think about all the legal born american citizens that are barely scraping through with a D. Tell me that they deserve your money more than the people in our situation.
      The DREAM Act is not perfect, but with the right changes only those who truly are trying to give back to society should be rewarded. A lot of people here probably don't even understand the difference "their" and "they're", but for some reason you deserve your education more than people like me.
      And I don't mean to brag, but tell me that I stole that A+ from the white kid sleeping in the back of class.
      P.s. That kid probably pays about half of what I do to go to go to a school that is better than mine.

      September 21, 2010 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken LeBert

      Met; That's a good story. Really. And I do sympathize. But I don't really CARE. My people created this country. For THEIR children. Millions of Americans worked and died for centuries to create the laws you ignore, because you want a better life. Well, good luck. Make one in YOUR country.
      With your intelligence and drive, you can improve the lives of people in your country, instead of bankrupting mine.

      September 21, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alex Miller

      I applaud your hard work, your persistence and your focus to obtain an education and a better way of life for yourself, but not at the expense of those who arrive legally and those who are born in the U.S.

      Perhaps the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation can reimburse me for my expensive tuition for higher education, and subsidize the financial educational needs of my children.

      I am sorry that your parents broke the law but why should I have to pay for their illegal behavior.

      September 21, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Gene

    I can't figure the Republicans out. They favor a strong defense but want to limit who can be a part of it. Certainly not their children. This is an act of cowardice on their party's part to avaoid taking a public stand on this issue as well as the other amendments to the bill. I served my country in the US Army proudly for 24 years and never once cared about the color, religion or legality on those who chose to serve and neither should any member of Congress. Think like an American and not a politician for once in your life.

    September 21, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Nancy

    Oh by the way Soldier – did you pay for all the education you brag about. If so – I apologize – if not, my point is made!!!!

    September 21, 2010 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  10. George

    So these people who are here illegally, get to become citizens by going to school on my dime, and then in turn can make their parents (who brought the kids here illegally) citizens so they can collect on my dime. Give me a break, we shouldn't allow for any of this. Mass arrest and deportation is necessary so we can save our country.

    September 21, 2010 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Anevay

    Whether Mr. Soldier came here legally or not, even the illegal do much more than American born do. Shamefully do I admit, not me or anyone in my family would dare take a job picking fruit 12 hrs a day, then go to a janitorial job at night, and get up for anotherj ob frying eggs and chopping onions at Dennys on the weekends.
    Bravo Soldier, I served my time as well and immigrants from all over did twice as much work in the military than good ol American midwestern boys. Just my observation....

    September 21, 2010 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Ken

    Illegal Mexicans should be rounded up and shipped back to Mexico, not rewarded. It is not difficult or expensive to do so, it just requires a WILL to enforce our laws. For example, even if it cost $1000 to transport someone to Mexico (and you could fly someone all the way to Australia for that much money,) then shipping 20 million illegals back to Mexico would only cost $20 billion – not even 4% of our annual defense budget. Chump change. So stop saying we can't do it, and just do it!

    September 21, 2010 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Nancy

    Met – All the years you speak of and say how much was lost to you because you are NOT legal – why don't you become LEGAL?

    September 21, 2010 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Ken LeBert

    To " Soldier "
    Your list of accomplishments is impressive. If you had stayed in Mexico, you'd probably run your own drug cartel by now. The fact is, every class you attended, every position you held, you stole from an American. Crossing an imaginary line on a map does NOT confer citizenship. Even unusually talented parasites, are, unfortunately, still parasites. Semper Fi

    September 21, 2010 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nancy

      Ken LeBert – RIGHT ON!!!

      September 21, 2010 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Tony

    I am not supporting your DREAM ACT – All of you who are illegal aliens should go back to your homeland period – do not steal our job, home, land, money, etc – I think we have enough with it!

    September 21, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
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