BLUFFTON — Isabel Castillo has been in the United States since age 6, 21 years ago, yet she is no closer to being a citizen today than she was then.
“My story is not unique,” the Mexico native said at Bluffton University today. “There are millions of stories across the country similar to my story.”
Castillo, who lives in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, worked hard in high school, only to realize she couldn’t go to college because she was undocumented, having been brought to the United States by her parents as a child. After a year, she discovered Eastern Mennonite University, which accepted students in her situation.
After graduating college with a degree in social work, she faced the hurdle of not being able to work because she is not documented.
Castillo has since become an advocate for the DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act. The 11-year-old bill would allow immigrants with good moral character who came to the U.S. as children, lived here continuously, graduated from high school and completed either two years of college or military service to obtain legal status. The measure failed in late 2010 by five Senate votes.
“To find out that five people put millions of dreams on hold was very hard,” said Castillo, who was there for the vote.
Castillo, who help found the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, has led rallies, organized a march on Washington, D.C., and staged a nonviolent sit-in, which led to her arrest, at Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s Office.
Read more about this story in Wednesday's The Lima News.