Immigrant's story featured in Times retold in U.S. Senate
The story of Maria Gomez, the aspiring Los Angeles architect whose parents brought her to the United States illegally as a child, was invoked on the floor of the U.S. Senate in an argument for the Dream Act.
Gomez’s situation came to the attention of Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) after her story appeared in the Los Angeles Times last month, detailing her academic success, her graduation from UCLA with a master's in architecture, and her struggle to find work in a country where she lacks papers.
In Congress on Tuesday, Durbin, an advocate of the controversial Dream Act – which would provide a path to legal status for certain people brought here illegally as children, raised a blown-up photo of Gomez in her graduation cap.
Durbin said he supported President Obama’s recent announcement that a class of young illegal immigrants would be allowed to apply for work permits, but argued that the Dream Act remained necessary as a longer-term solution.
“I ask my colleagues who are critical of the Dream Act and President Obama’s new policy: Would you prefer that we deport Maria Gomez back to the Mexico at this point in her life, a country that she has not lived in since she was a small child?” Durbin said.
“She grew up here. She has overcome amazing odds to become successful. This determined young woman can make America a better nation.”
“I was in shock,” she said of watching footage of the senator’s speech. “I was like, ‘Oh my God. That’s my face. He’s talking about me.”
Photo: Maria Gomez adjusts her cap before her graduation ceremony at UCLA. Christina House / For The Times.