Nineteen-year-old José Salcedo took a stand Wednesday that may turn out to be a milestone in his life and in the struggle for legalization by undocumented immigrants.
A keynote speaker at a student rally at Miami Dade College's InterAmerican campus in Little Havana, Salcedo surprised many of his listeners when he revealed he was undocumented.
The Colombia-born Salcedo is no ordinary student. He is Student Government Association president at the InterAmerican campus, student representative on the Board of Trustees for Miami Dade College and a member of the school's Honors College, one of 550 elite students.
Salcedo's disclosure came as some students here and across the country mobilized one day after President Obama promised to push for a DREAM Act vote in the lame-duck Congress.
The landmark legislation, stalled in Congress for years, would give green cards to foreign students brought to the country illegally by their parents when they were babies, toddlers or teenagers. Salcedo said his mother brought him here when he was 9 to escape threats and extortion by paramilitary forces.
It is one piece of the comprehensive immigration reform package that many lawmakers now believe is nearly impossible to pass given the Nov. 2 election that gave Republicans control of the House of Representatives and increased their numbers in the Senate as of January.
Salcedo, an international law student, said he decided to reveal his lack of immigration status because he wanted to make a point about how crucial the legislation is to the future of hundreds of thousands of undocumented students like him.
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