And these are the DREAMERS
I'd like to introduce you to two of those DREAMERS below the cloud.
The second girl in the video is a local girl here in Danbury, CT. She and her twin, Camilla and Caroline Bortolleto (I can't tell them apart even though I've met them several times now) are two of the DREAMERS. Children who were brought to the US from other countries and through no fault of their own have had to live in the shadows because of a broken system that does not consider them legal residents. This despite the fact that many have lived here most of their young lives. These are the between 800,000 and 1.4 million undocumented immigrants who will be most directly affect by President Obama's ruling last week on immigration. They are the same people who would be greatly helped by Congress if the republicans helped pass the DREAM ACT.
Like many other children, the sisters came here when they were very young. In their case they came here from Sao Paulo, Brasil when they were 8 years old. Also like many undocumented immigrants, they overstayed their tourist Visa. A violation that's akin to getting a parking ticket. Yet they have had to struggle through hardships unknown to many of us, including children of immigrants such as myself. Things we take for granted like getting a drivers license or paying resident tuition rates for a college that is in the same city that you live in. Because they aren't legal residents they couldn't get a license like all their classmates in Danbury High School. This led them to having to admit their status to their friends. Because they were not legal residents of Connecticut or the US for that matter, they had to pay higher tuition rates to go to college. The ironic part is the college they went to, Western Connecticut State University is also in Danbury. The same town they have lived in for the last 16 years.
Fortunately for other children who are in the same situation as the twins and are looking to attend college in Connecticut, our governor signed a bill last year allowing instate tuition for undocumented children. Unfortunately for the twins, it was too late to help them. They got stuck paying $5,500 more a semester. Undaunted by this they both graduated, Carolina with a 3.96 GPA and a biology degree and they advocated to correct this with great success.
Carolina Bortolleto and her twin sister Camila are two of those students. The twins, who graduated from Western Connecticut State University last fall, moved with their parents from Brazil when they were 9-years old.The twins along with several other brave young individuals who have stepped out of the shadows, knowing full well they could be deported at any point, got together and started Connecticut Students for a Dream. Connecticut Students for a Dream is a coalition of undocumented youth and their allies across the state who advocate on behalf of individuals like themselves. Their group as well as hundreds like it across the country have been advocating for President Obama to help them and last week he heard their call.
"I found I was stuck paying out-of-state tuition when the bill came saying I had to pay $5,500 more a semester. I was shocked because in my mind I was a Connecticut resident," she said Tuesday standing outside the Senate chamber where the debate was taking place.
Convinced it was a mistake, the twins headed to the bursars office at WCSU with all their high school and middle school records, tax filings by their parents showing they had paid taxes the last eight years to be told they were stuck paying out-of-state rates.
"Basically we were missing the right paperwork," Carolina said, who graduated with a 3.96 GPA and a biology degree last fall.
The twins and about a dozen other undocumented students watched the nearly 9-hour debate from the Senate gallery. When the final bill was finally approved 21-14 the girls and their friends cheered and hugged.
Brazilian twins Camila Bortolleto and Carolina Bortolleto say they are "incredibly happy" because they are eligible to qualify for the act. Until last Thursday, both were deeply anxious about their future and had been busy with their summer classes at Western Connecticut State University and making that extra effort to boost their career prospects. "But this announcement on Friday has given me a better direction," said Camila, an International Studies major.Today the twins are active in the local community and politics. They're involved in Connecticut Students for a Dream and have been travelling across the state and country advocating for undocumented immigrants and against draconian laws being pushed locally by our mayor or at the state level. They're involved with the Greater Danbury Hispanic Center, with Occupy Danbury and they write for the local immigrant newspaper the Tribuna. On top of all this, they're both very humble and wonderful young women.
The Bortolleto sisters -- who are now 24 -- were brought to the US from Sao Paulo in 1988 when they were eight years old. "We stayed over after out tourist visa expired," she said. "There was no looking back after that. This became our new home...we went to school and college here, but I never thought I'd ever be able to put my degree to good use. Now, that seems possible."
They and others like them are the future of this country. Young adults who want to get a quality education and get involved but until now have been denied the opportunity or had many roadblocks placed in front of them making it difficult. All because of the fact that they were born somewhere else. They are the DREAMERS and their dreams with the help of President Obama have a greater chance today of becoming a reality.