California student leader's immigration status leads to DREAM Act rally

The Fresno BeeNovember 18, 2010 

Pedro Ramirez is best known as Fresno State's student body president.

Far less public is his status as an illegal immigrant -- at least, until this week. That's when an anonymous e-mail, sent to The Bee and other media outlets, prompted Ramirez to confirm publicly that fact.

Now he's helping organize an on-campus rally Friday in support of the federal DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act. The legislation pending in Congress would allow some longtime residents like him to become legal U.S. residents after spending two years in college or the military.

"The DREAM Act itself symbolizes what it is to be an American, which is our goal," said Ramirez, a junior majoring in political science and agricultural economics. "We want to contribute to the United States, and utilize the degrees and skills we gained, to make it a better place."

Wednesday, reaction on campus to Ramirez's legal status was mild. A receptionist at the Associated Students Inc. student government office said she'd fielded some calls -- nearly all from journalists seeking an interview with Ramirez.

Many students said they didn't know who Ramirez was and hadn't formed an opinion. But a few people on campus said his legal status didn't matter.

Kenneth Russell, 20, of Fresno, said he didn't have a problem with how Ramirez arrived in the U.S. -- adding "the more people, the more love." Psychology professor Michael Botwin said he attended two meetings with Ramirez on Wednesday and the subject of his legal status didn't surface.

Botwin called it a tough issue, particularly as the state reduces funding to public universities.

To read the complete article, visit www.fresnobee.com.

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