While President Barack Obama voiced support for the DREAM Act today in Silicon Valley, one of the Bay Area's most vociferous leaders in the national student movement to get the bill passed is now facing possible deportation.
If passed, the DREAM Act would pave the path of citizenship for any illegal immigrants who had been brought here as children -- as long as they complete two years of college or the military.
Students across the country and in the Bay Area have already exposed themselves as illegal immigrants when they publicly supported passage of the bill -- Prerna Lal in particular.
Lal, a Fiji native who came to the Bay Area when she was 14, was the poster child for our coverage of the DREAM Act last summer. She has blogged extensively about the DREAM Act on Change.org and details her own predicament on her blog. She also helped found DreamActivist, the national organization of young immigrants who advocate for the
passage of the DREAM Act.
But all of this attention has seemingly backfired.
Two weeks ago during final exams at George Washington University Law School, Lal received a letter requesting she report to immigration court in
San Francisco for removal proceedings.
As she writes on Change.org:
I just paid $800 to the State of California in business taxes. AndMeanwhile, during a speech at Facebook today, President Obama received heavy applause after confirming that he supports DREAM Act-eligible immigrants like Lal.
I'm expected to appear in an immigration court in San Francisco for
this trial. That is some heavy taxation without representation. To make
matters more complicated, my entire family is American and they have
done nothing to deserve this treatment.
we want to make sure their contributing to our future?" he said. "Why would we want to send them somewhere else? We don't want them starting Intel in China or France -- we want them starting here."
But what are the president's words doing to help Lal?
Lal is eligible for relief under the DREAM Act. She came to the Bay Area with her father, and soon after graduated with degrees from San Francisco State University and CSU-East Bay. She worked her way through college by cleaning an office building, getting paid under the table.
Although the DREAM Act bill is dead for now, Lal doesn't appear to be scared. She was quoted in the George Washington University student paper with breezy confidence despite the reality of her situation:
"I've stopped about a dozen of these cases from happening," Lal says. "I know how to doBut she might still need some help, which is why Lal's supporters have started a fundraising and petition campaign at Change.org. They've already gotten nearly 2,000 signatures.
"I think a lot of people are angry," Lal says. "I'm more amused, personally -- they can't kick me out of the country."Update, 6:00: Lal e-mailed to put her "kick me out of the country" quote in the student paper in more context: