Originally published March 9, 2012 at 4:17 p.m., updated March 12, 2012 at 10:25 a.m.
DREAM Act Walk
UPDATE: The Campaign for an American Dream marchers headed out of the San Francisco Bay on Saturday, March 10.
A 25-year-old, undocumented San Diego man is walking with them across California. José Gonzalez was born in Mexico but has lived nearly his entire life in California. Gonzalez faces a removal proceeding at an immigration hearing set for March 27.
A small group of undocumented immigrant youth and their supporters is kicking off a cross-country walk on March 10 to try and rally support for the federal DREAM Act.
The bill would grant U.S. residency to young people who were brought to this country as minors and who graduated from U.S. high schools. Last year, the act was defeated in Congress.
The walk is being coordinated by the Campaign for an American Dream. It begins at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and will end at the Washington Monument in D.C. shortly before the November presidential elections.
The walkers plan to loosely follow Interstate 80 across the country, stopping in communities to hold lobby days, town hall meetings and information sessions about the DREAM Act and other immigration issues. Just four people plan to walk the whole distance, but others have committed to join for shorter stretches.
Dream Act Bill 2011
Jonatan Martinez, 25, is one of the walkers. He said he was brought to this country from Mexico by his parents at age four. He didn't find out he wasn't an American until he was told by a U.S. military recruiter that he couldn't join the Coast Guard because he was undocumented.
He said he hoped the walk would help people who don't know much about the DREAM Act put a face to the legislation.
“By connecting a face to the struggle, we feel that a lot of people will understand that we’re not here as criminals," Martinez said. "We’re not here to drain the economy. We’re here basically to give back to the only country that we know.”
President Barack Obama has urged Congress to pass the DREAM Act as a first step toward reforming the country's immigration laws.
If President, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has said he would veto the DREAM Act. He said the law would encourage more people to come to the U.S. illegally.