Supporters of the DREAM Act sought to highlight the military service of undocumented immigrants outside the J.J. Pickle Federal Building on Wednesday.
Organizers said they timed the event to fall the day before Veterans Day.
“We want to thank them for their service,” said Karla Resendiz, a UT alumna who helped organize the event. “But we also want to emphasize that the DREAM Act does have a military component because there are many young people who would prefer to join the military rather than choose the education route.”
The demonstration followed a rally on campus Tuesday during which several UT students came out as undocumented immigrants. Activists plan to end a week of events by delivering a petition to the Austin office of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-TX, urging her to vote for the bill during the lame-duck congressional session.
“Let us Dream, let us serve, let us be free,” read one of the signs at the Let Us Serve press conference held by DREAM Act supporters.
About 30 people, including veterans, activists and UT students attended the event. Two Latino veterans spoke at the event.
Don Arellano, a Vietnam veteran, talked about the historical contributions of Latino immigrants to the U.S.
He said 19 percent of Latino soldiers who served in the Vietnam War died, which is a testament to the commitment of Latino people to the United States.
The event coordinators said they reached out to conservative speakers to show that the bill has
“The DREAM Act is not amnesty and does not use taxpayer dollars,” said Lauro Garza, Texas state director for Somos Republicans, a conservative Hispanic organization. “The DREAM Act provides the opportunity for undocumented immigrant youth to prove worthy to become legal residents and, eventually, an American.”
Other speakers emphasized how the DREAM Act will enable them to accomplish lifelong dreams. Julieta Garibay, who has a master’s degree in nursing from UT Austin, wants to be a nurse in the Marines.
“I hope that someday I’ll be able to serve as a military nurse to give a healing hand to those soldiers and bring them back to health,“ she said.