HOUSTON—Rallies and vigils are taking place across the country in support of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act -- or the DREAM Act. It's a legislation that would help undocumented students become legal.
Closer to home, several organizations are doing what they can to push for the DREAM Act. This week is critical since the legislation will go before Congress.
The DREAM Act has been around for a decade, drafted in the late 1990s. It was designed to give eligible students the opportunity to earn conditional permanent residency if they complete two years in the military or two years at a four-year university.
Students and organizations who support the act say if it doesn't pass this week, they fear it may not get another chance.
In a small office in southwest Houston, the efforts are big.
"I encourage Senator [Kay Bailey] Hutchison to vote yes on the DREAM Act when it comes out for a vote," said Cesar Espinosa.
Espinosa and volunteers made one call after another Monday, pushing for the bill's passage.
"The national goal today for calls is 10,000 calls," Espinosa said. "Within our city, we're hoping to get 1,000 calls out of Houston."
They were making calls to Sen. Hutchison -- one of many senators who hold the power to vote "yes" on the DREAM Act. It could potentially affect the future of undocumented students like Katia Carmona.
Carmona was born in Mexico and arrived in the United States at a young age. Under the DREAM Act, Carmona would get the opportunity to apply for permanent residency.
"A higher education is a challenge for everybody, but if you put yourself in the shoes of an undocumented child, it's harder," Carmona said.
Carmona was a freshman in high school when the DREAM Act was introduced. It has been years of anguish wondering if she will ever get the chance to put her education to use.
"And it still hasn't happened, but I'm still here and I'm still trying. Hopefully they see that," Carmona said.
She, along with other students like her, hope their education wont be in vain.
If passed, DREAM Act beneficiaries must:
* Have proof of having arrived in the United States before age 16.
* Have proof of residence in the United States for a least five consecutive years since their date of arrival
* Be between the ages of 12 and 35 at the time of bill enactment
* Have graduated from an American high school or obtained a GED
* Be of "good moral character"