The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

‘Dreamers’ register first-time voters

By Kelly Rodriguez

The voter registration drive held at Main Campus Building April 4 hosted by Students United for the Dream Act chapter of Texas A&M-San Antonio was a success, members of SUDA said.

“About 50 students lined up to register to vote while the rest were given out registration cards to mail in once they were completed,” Benjamin Rubio, president of Students United for the Dream Act, said.

“I’d say it’s been successful. I’m surprised that a lot of people aren’t registered to vote,” criminology senior and SUDA member Bianca Martinez said. “We’ve had a good turnout and a lot of people are still willing to stop and fill out the cards.”

Active since fall 2011, SUDA has an estimated 12 active members. The student group is advised by psychology Professors Samuel Rock and Rosario Torres-Raines.

The student organization has gained members each semester and has provided free events to students and residents of the South Side community.

SUDA SAC and Students United for the Dream Act at Texas A&M-San Antonio held a mass deputization through the department of the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project Feb. 8 at Main Campus. The deputization allowed members of SUDA to organize voter registration events on campus. Read related article.

Rubio, an undocumented student, founded a SUDA chapter at San Antonio College and says he is doing everything he can to increase voter participation and shine more light on the pressing issue of undocumented students who support the Dream Act.

Using Facebook as a platform to reach more students, Rubio wrote on March 19:  “We fight for the rights of the immigrants who grew up going to school in the U.S. and now find themselves with the possibility of getting kicked out and sent out into a country they do not know. We [SUDA] concentrate in helping educated immigrants who would love to become a positive impact for the U.S. as soon as they would be given a chance.”

The Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act (Dream Act), is bipartisan legislation that, if passed, would allow qualifying undocumented youth a six year long conditional path to citizenship. The act requires students to have completed a college degree  or two years of military service.

Martinez, who supports the Dream Act, said the legislation is an important opportunity for people who are working hard at their careers, attending school and staying out of trouble to earn a path towards citizenship.

She added that SUDA’s efforts to register voters can help students change policies and legislation. At the time of the voter registration drive, Martinez said, “We’ve gotten about 20 people so far” who are unregistered.

In addition to the mass deputization and the voter registration drive, SUDA plans to close out the spring term with a final fundraising event.

“We are also having a fundraiser at the end of April,” Teresa Ramos, SUDA member and psychology senior, said. The date for the fundraiser has not been set.

SUDA has bi-weekly meetings at noon Wednesday in Room 237 of Main Campus. For more information, visit SUDA on Facebook.

To be eligible to register in Texas, you must:

  • be a U.S. citizen;
  • be a resident of the county;
  • be 18 years old (you may register at 17 years and 10 months);
  • not a convicted felon (unless a person’s sentence is completed, including any probation or parole)
  • not declared mentally incapacitated by a court of law

Other ways to register to vote are curbside voting, mail or by calling to get an application. For more information, visit Bexar County Election Department.

Contact the Bexar County Elections Department for information about locations and times at 210-335-VOTE (8683) or visit www.bexar.org/elections/.

About the Author

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Kelly Rodriguez
Aspiring journalist, music enthusiast and avid record collector. Full time student at Texas A&M San Antonio, pursuing my B.A In communications, after which I hope to obtain my Masters, and if the wind sails the correct way attend Grad School. Easy going and open to constructive criticism.

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