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October 18, 2012
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Western Nevada College student plans rally Friday for Dream Act

Frankie Perez attended Dayton schools from elementary through high school, graduating in 2010. Now, he is studying at Western Nevada College with plans to move on to a university to pursue a degree in political science.And he has friends with similar stories. Except for one thing. Perez was born in the United States to parents who had legally immigrated from Mexico. For others, the situation is more complicated.“A lot of them came when they were younger. They went to school with me all the way through,” he said. “They were brought up the same as me. A lot of them didn’t even know they were illegal.”They only found out, he said, when they tried to enroll in college or enlist in the military.The point was driven home to him last year when a group of young people visited Western Nevada College’s Latino Student Club, of which Perez served as president, to talk about the Dream Act.“You couldn’t even tell they were illegal immigrants,” Perez said. “They looked like any of us. They could be our friends.”Perez agreed with the principles of the Dream Act, which would create provisions to allow illegal immigrants to earn legal status over the course of several years.“Their stories were heartbreaking,” Perez said. “That’s when I started becoming an activist for the Dream Act.”He has spoken out on the topic, particularly at the political Shout Nights hosted by the college. Now, he is organizing a rally in front of the Legislature on Friday in support of the act.“There are a lot of little groups that support it,” he said. “I wanted to get us all together.”Perez began planning for the rally in June and has been joined by his longtime friend Erik Llamas, who graduated from Dayton High School in 2011 and now serves as president of the Latino Student Club. Llamas, also a second-generation American, said he feels an obligation to be a voice for those who may be too intimidated to speak for themselves.“A lot of undocumented people are scared,” he said. “They’re afraid to show themselves. We have friends and some of them are undocumented. We want them to have the same opportunities we have.”Perez said without documentation, young people are prevented from moving forward into college or military service. “If you were willing to die for a country you weren’t born in, shouldn’t you be considered part of that country?” he asked. “They’re trying to help America prosper.”He dismissed criticism that the act would encourage illegal immigration. “It can’t attract as a magnet for illegal immigrants because they have to be here for five years to be eligible,” he reasoned.Although the rally is coming during a hotly contested political season, Perez hopes to keep it positive.“I think the whole community should support this,” Perez said. “I’m trying to bring everybody together. The last thing I want to do is attack anybody. I don’t want it to be a negative thing.”If you goWHAT: Dream Act rallyWHEN: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. FridayWHERE: Nevada Legislature

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The Nevada Appeal Updated Oct 18, 2012 03:19AM Published Oct 18, 2012 03:14AM Copyright 2012 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.