Illegal immigrant students graduate

TEMPE, AZ - Thousands of Arizona State University students are graduating this weekend, but for those here in the country illegally their futures are uncertain.

Angelica Hernandez was smuggled across the Mexican border when she was just a little girl. On Saturday she graduated at the top of her class even though she could be deported at any moment.

For the more than 10,000 students graduating, they will soon start careers, but not Hernandez.

"It's unfair for us that we are going to get our degree today, and we're just going to hang it, and it's going to look pretty on our wall, and we're not going to be able to use it," she said.

Hernandez is a very bright student. She has won awards for her academic excellence, but any employer who hires her would be committing a crime. Hernandez is an undocumented immigrant. Her mother snuck her across the Mexican border when she was just 9 years old.

More than a dozen other Arizona State graduates share a similar story.

"We crossed here when we were small. We didn't know what we were doing or the choices our parents were making," Hernandez said. "Now we're here and we're educated. We just want to be given the opportunity to fulfill our dreams and be able to contribute to society."

Hernandez and other undocumented students are counting on the passage of the Dream Act; a law that would give them a way to become legal U.S. citizens.

She gets emotional talking about the extra troubles she and other illegals went through to earn the same diplomas as everyone else.

"We played on the same playgrounds. We did the same the homework. We're going through the same education, they're going through, but going through even more struggles than they had to," she said.

Hernandez graduated with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering. She says she wants to get a job in renewable energy, but since she is not a legal U.S. citizen, she can only continue her education and hope the Dream Act passes.

Many viewers have been sounding off on the issue on the ABC15 Facebook page :

Angie Pierson wrote, "They should absolutely have a chance. Make it easier for them to get the proper documentation."

Charlton Colasont wrote, "Sure, if they are willing to go through the proper procedures to obtain LEGAL status. Then by all means they are more than welcome to stay and work, like the rest of us AMERICAN CITIZENS. I have to wonder though, how many LEGAL children were denied scholarship funding and educational grants, because the ILLEGAL ones were in the mix?"

Michelle Lara wrote, "We need to create solutions! If they were criminals then I would understand. However in this case they deserve to stay here, live here, get an education and work here."

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