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Oklahoma City group rallies for immigrant youths

A handful of students rallied above a bridge near SW 29 and Interstate 44 Thursday, waving a banner that read, “Dream Act OKC #RightToDream.” Participants are asking U.S. government to give a pathway to citizenship for those qualified under the Dream Act.
BY VALLERY BROWN Published: May 18, 2012

A student at OSU-OKC, Valencia said he was told by high school counselors to drop out of school because going on to college would be difficult and finding a job nearly impossible due to his immigration status.

Valencia was brought to the country with his family nearly a decade ago.

“We have to go against that kind of thinking,” he said. “It's ridiculous and goes against the principles we have in this country about education.”

Valencia graduated high school with honors.

Benefit of country

The Pew Hispanic Center estimates about 65,000 undocumented students graduate from U.S. high schools annually.

Oklahoma City University student Victoria Silva said she was on the bridge to support her brother and families of mixed statuses like hers.

“It only benefits the country to have people educated and entering careers,” she said.

Every year, about 1.3 million students drop out of high school, according to the Alliance for Excellent Education. More than half of those dropouts are from minority groups. The dropouts from 2010 class alone will cost states $337 billion in lost wages over their lifetimes.

Silva said limiting the opportunities and options of young people discourages them and disaffects students from dreaming about their goals and working to achieve them.

“This isn't just about going to school,” she said. “This is something that would help the entire country.”