Escalera, a co-founder of the Norman chapter of DREAM Act Oklahoma, said she hopes to see the perception of undocumented students change both at OU and nationwide. The organization isn't asking for violent criminals to be allowed to stay in the United States, she said, only those who want to stay here to work or go to school.
Escalera said she watches her mother get up early each morning to go to a job she doesn't like. After work, she comes home, eats dinner and goes to bed. Then, she gets up the next morning to do it again — all the while, fearful that one day she'll be deported. Her mother took on that risk so that Escalera would have the chance for a better, more stable life, she said.
“My mom is not a criminal,” she said. “My mom respects everything about this country.”
Nancy Perdomo, another OU student, attended the vigil to support her fellow students.
Although she isn't undocumented herself, Perdomo said she sympathizes with friends who have to navigate legal and political wrangling to stay in the country.
“I see how brave they are and how big their dreams are,” she said. “It's sad that they're put into this box.”
Eleazar Velazquez, an undocumented OU student and the group's co-founder, said he worries about his friends and family who have had to deal with the ramifications of being undocumented. A friend recently received a letter saying he'd been rejected for Deferred Action.
Velazquez said he doesn't put much stock in Deferred Action. Although it does grant temporary legal status to some undocumented workers, it isn't a permanent solution. It doesn't grant citizenship or even provide a path to citizenship.
“People think it's over,” he said. “The fight has just begun.”
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People think it's over. The fight has just begun.”
Undocumented OU student and co-founder of the Norman chapter