Editor’s Note: The mission of The Alcalde and the Texas Exes is to keep alumni and friends informed about The University of Texas. But this article on a campus rally is unacceptably one-sided and not up to The Alcalde‘s reporting standards. The Texas Exes has no position on illegal immigration, nor on the DREAM Act, and we do not support any presidential candidate. We apologize for coming up short on this article, and we will strive to do better next time.
Daniel Olvera got his UT diploma in the mail yesterday. When he opened the envelope, he was overcome with pride—but also with grief and frustration.
“I looked at it,” Olvera said, “and I thought, ‘This is the degree I worked for all these years, but I won’t be able to use it.’ Then I put it back in the package.”
Because Olvera, BA ’12, is in the United States illegally, he cannot work here. Though he graduated from UT’s prestigious UTeach program, he thought his goal of teaching high school social studies was out of reach.
“That was yesterday, and this is today,” said Olivera, the president of UT’s University Leadership Initiative. “I don’t know what to say…I’m so excited. I’m so happy.”
Today was a significant day for Olvera and 800,000 young adults like him. This afternoon President Obama announced an executive order, effective immediately, that will allow many people who were brought into the United States illegally as children and grew up here to get legal work permits and avoid deportation. The measure is similar to the “Dream Act” that failed in Congress.
The policy will cover people aged 30 or younger who are in school, have earned a high school diploma, or are in the military. A clean criminal record is required, and people must have arrived in the country before age 16 and lived here at least five years to qualify.
About 20 members of the University Leadership Initiative, a UT student-run group that rallies for immigration reform, gathered in the blazing afternoon sun at Littlefield Fountain today to celebrate. A young alumnus who gave his name as Alfredo said, “Now I can drive like my friends can—I can travel like my friends can. I can put my UT degree to work.”
UT history professor Emilio Zamora read a statement from U.S. Rep. Luis Gutiérrez commending the students for their activism and calling the policy “a tremendous first step.”
“We’ve been fighting for this a long time, and it’s a relief to say the least,” said Julieta Garibay, BSN ’05, MS ’08, who co-founded the University Leadership Initiative in 2005. “Today is one of the happiest moments of my life.”
Photo by Zen Ren