Photo used with permission by Sandra Chico
by Rosalie Chan, Web Editor
Teacher and student volunteers from WHS met at 5:45 a.m. to leave for Navy Pier and volunteer at Dream Relief Day on Aug. 15, the first day undocumented immigrants can apply for deferment.
President Barack Obama issued an executive order that allows undocumented immigrants to apply for deferment, which allows them to obtain a work permit and protected status in the U.S. for two years.
At Dream Relief Day, undocumented immigrants could fill out applications for this initiative, as well as receive advice from immigration experts and attorneys. This application process affects people born after June 15, 1981 and who came to the U.S. before age 16.
“I felt like I did something amazing because I helped. I cheered on these people. Some people even told us, ‘it’s so great you’re helping us and making history,’” Hector Juarez, senior, said. “The most interesting thing I saw was the large number of people.”
Dream Relief Day events took place nationwide. The Navy Pier event, coordinated by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, was one of the largest, with about 13,000 people there. However, not everyone could apply that day due to the large number of people present.
“I think volunteering allows students to feel good about service. People are willing to help with no compensation other than the feeling of contributing,” Sandra Chico, social studies teacher and student council adviser, said.
Ms. S. Chico; Kristen Chico, TLC coordinator; and Bertha Sanchez, social worker and Latino Club and SHADES adviser, took 21 students to the event.
When the WHS volunteers arrived there, they were taught how to answer questions. They spent the day volunteering by answering applicants’ questions and escorting them to places.
“We have students here (at WHS) that are undocumented; even though they work hard in high school, they have a minimal chance of going to college,” Ms. S. Chico said. I saw several alumni that were there (in line). When I was walking through the line, they would call out my name and say, ‘I’m here; I’m going to make my dream come true.’ They were excited for this chance.”
Application for deferment began Aug. 15 and still continues. For more information about Dream Act Relief, visit <dreamrelief.org>.