Sunday: Oklahoma youths seek reprieve from deportation
BY GINNIE GRAHAM World Staff Writer
Saturday, November 24, 2012
11/24/12 at 8:26 PM
NORMAN — Eleazar Velazquez got a text message from his mother during a Dream Act group meeting before the University of Oklahoma released classes for Thanksgiving.
“I got a letter saying to go in Dec. 10 for my biometrics,” he announced.
Everyone understood that jargon and gave him hugs and high-fives.
With a shaky voice and smile spanning his face, the 22-year-old undocumented immigrant said that means he may get a chance to stay in the U.S., his home since age 3.
“That means I’m almost at the end — fingerprints and my photo for a worker’s permit,” he said. “After that, I’m official.”
Velazquez, an architecture student at OU, is among at least 10,000 immigrants in Oklahoma expected to qualify for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. That gives a two-year reprieve from deportation to youths such as Velazquez who were brought to this country by their parents as children.
It is not a pathway to citizenship or residency.
It is for this reason Velazquez and his fellow Dream Act group members, called Dreamers, will be holding a vigil at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the south oval of the OU campus. It is a first-of-its-kind event for Oklahoma — one where young, illegal immigrants will publicly acknowledge their status, their struggles and their determination to become Americans.
The group includes students studying everything from the arts to business as well as fraternity members, pageant girls and students involved in a variety of campus activities.
“I’m undocumented by circumstance, Mexican in origin and American in my future,” Velazquez said. “That’s how I define myself. I’m definitely not ‘an illegal.’ I did not choose how I came here.”
Dream Act nonprofit groups, named for the decade-old pending legislation in Congress, have popped up to push for passage of immigration laws to help undocumented youths.
Oklahoma has three groups — in Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Norman — with 60 total members. Last year, the total was 30.
The deferred action directive mirrors many of the Dream Act points but is only temporary, leaving youths in limbo-type status.
Read more in Sunday's World.
Eleazar Velazquez (left) offers his friend Deisy Escalera a sip of his coffee drink at Starbucks at the University of Oklahoma Student Union in Norman. Both have applied for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. JOHN CLANTON/Tulsa World