Melba teen to address lawmakers in support of DREAM Act

Credit: Theresa Palmgren / KTVB

Melba senior Sam Rodriguez will speak in support of the Dream Act on Wednesday before Congress.

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by Karen Zatkulak

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KTVB.COM

Posted on April 9, 2013 at 8:38 AM

Updated Friday, Nov 8 at 12:00 PM

MELBA -- A local teen is scheduled to speak before Congress Wednesday in support of President Obama's controversial DREAM Act.

Under the provisions of the DREAM Act, qualifying undocumented youth would be eligible for a 6-year-long conditional path to citizenship that requires completion of a college degree or two years of military service. Get more info here.

Sam Rodriguez is a senior at Melba High School. She'll be speaking for the bill in front of U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday, April 10.

Rodriguez is scheduled to speak before Idaho's Congressional delegation sometime between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. That includes Senator Mike Crapo, Senator Jim Risch, and Congressman Raul Labrador.

It's an issue the 18-year-old has a personal connection to.

Rodriguez told KTVB she wanted to focus her senior project on immigration reform. That's why she wrote a speech and completed a presentation on the topic.

However, when Rodriguez gave that speech at Nampa's Hispanic Cultural Center last month, it led to an invitation to address our nation's top lawmakers.

On Wednesday, Rodriguez will deliver the same speech to Congress.

Her speech is titled "I am their Voice," and tells Sam Rodriguez' personal story. In it, she explains how her parents traveled illegally from Mexico to the US just before she was born.

"My mother was 5-months pregnant with me, so I was just moments away from being born in Mexico and not here," says Rodriguez.

EXPERIENCE SHAPES HER BELIEFS

Rodriguez' parents were deported several years later, and eventually returned to the U.S. as citizens.

While Rodriguez was born a U.S. citizen, she says many of her friends were not. She believes they should have the same educational rights that she does.

"I just thought it was unfair because I got the opportunity to be a citizen, born a citizen, while they didn't," Rodriguez said. "So, I feel like I have an obligation to help them and actually be their voice."

"This is in front of Congress so I'm just hoping and praying that I won't get nervous, but I feel so confident because I am so passionate about this issue," says Rodriguez.

An issue that's giving this high school dreamer an amazing opportunity.

"It's a dream, honestly, I feel like it's a dream," says Rodriguez.

SPEAKING BEFORE LAWMAKERS

Rodriguez tells us she will be one of four speakers before lawmakers on Wednesday, and the only student.

She will also attend a rally for the Dream Act on Capitol Hill.

The Dream Act involves the chance for U.S. citizenship for undocumented students who complete high school, and go on to attend college.

Those against the bill say it encourages and rewards illegal immigration.

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