Posted Jul 30, 2007 05:21 pm CDT
In less than a week, the government’s attempt to deport a star graduate of a Miami high school has provided an unexpected civics lesson that has turned some 1,500 friends and well-wishers into lobbyists.
With the help of money from their college funds and Internet posts seeking support, friends of Juan Gomez, 18, have spearheaded a multi-faceted effort to allow him and his 19-year-old brother stay in this country, reports the Miami Herald. Eight are flying to Washington, D.C. today, where they are promised that at least one Florida legislator will introduce a special bill that would permit the two Gomez brothers to stay here, if it is enacted.
And, on a broader plane, they are also pushing for enactment of the DREAM Act. The federal bill introduced in 2005 by Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., would provide some 60,000 undocumented children of immigrants with a chance to attend college or serve in the military, like their 2.8 million legal counterparts.
The Gomez brothers moved here illegally, with their parents, in 1990, when both were toddlers. Following their arrest by immigration authorities last week, the two youths and their parents are now being held in detention facilities awaiting deportation to their native Colombia. As discussed in an earlier ABAJournal.com post, Juan Gomez, in particular, is a star student and popular football player who was headed to a college honors program this fall until his arrest.
“Colombia would be as foreign as China to us. Both of us have lost most of our Spanish-speaking skills,” the brothers say in a handwritten letter (PDF) to which the Herald provides a link. “My brother and I are American, no matter what a piece of paper tells us.”