Mitt Romney reportedly made local GOP fundraising history on his Wednesday swing through San Antonio, bagging some $3 million from eager South Texas donors at closed-door campaign stops.
But outside his Marriott Rivercenter appearance (minimum $2,500 donation entry fee), the GOP presidential candidate met shouts of “Veto Romney, not the DREAM Act.”
About 10 protestors, many of them young undocumented students or recent grads, chafed at Romney's continued hard stance against the DREAM Act, the long-stalled immigration reform measure that would provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented students brought into the country as children, provided they go to college or join the military.
“We want him to understand that we were brought here when we were kids and we want to be able to give back,” said Jose Luis Zelaya, an undocumented student who just finished his first semester at Texas A&M University. “The fact that he opposes it is not a good way to win the Latino vote.”
Cesar Vargas, a recent law school graduate who's also undocumented, said the group wants Romney to understand that the DREAM Act is not a handout.
“[The DREAM Act] is simply an opportunity for students, like undocumented youth like myself,” Vargas said. “All we want is an opportunity to give back. I graduated from law school and all I want is an opportunity to give back to this country I call home.”
Vargas now travels the country protesting Romney's immigration stance. In Fort Worth yesterday, Vargas joined a fellow protestor who ran into Romney's town hall meeting to hang a banner for the cause. The stunt briefly halted Romney's speech.
“What we wanted to do was make sure that the message was louder,” Vargas said. “We have protests outside but we wanted to make sure that our presence was felt inside too.”
Pamela Resendiz, a local DREAMer who recently graduated from UTSA, criticized Romney's stance on immigration and the DREAM Act. Resendiz, brought from Mexico City to the U.S. by her parents when she was just 9 years old, spent time in immigrant detention and was threatened with deportation after being arrested in Austin (police accused her of blocking a road at South by Southwest). Resendiz was one of a dozen other UTSA students who launched a hunger strike in late 2010 as the DREAM Act was up for a vote, urging U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison to throw her support behind the bill (Hutchison, viewed as a swing vote, eventually voted with the majority of her party to block the bill).
“I just graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a major in political science and a minor in Latin American studies and concentration in pre-law," Resendiz said. I have been detained; I have been in the system. I know the importance of having the DREAM Act and I know how beneficial it can be not only to DREAMers but people in society and the nation.”
-- By Tori Sommerman, firstname.lastname@example.org