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Awaiting DREAM Act, illegal student in U.S. compares himself to Superman

Erickhuerta_zocalo "Once, when I was seven, I fell asleep in Michoacan and woke in Boyle Heights. No joke."

This is how a young writer and journalist in East Los Angeles named Erick Huerta begins telling his story. Huerta, 26, is a student and undocumented immigrant, stuck in a legal and cultural bind between two countries. He was born in Mexico and brought to the U.S. illegally as a child, like many others whose parents were lured to the U.S. by economic prospects. He finished high school, entered college and is now as culturally "American" as anyone else.

Should he be deported to a country he doesn't know, or should his status be normalized under the DREAM Act?

The proposed law, built around an energetic grass-roots effort, would give certain undocumented students like Huerta -- or those entering the U.S. military -- conditional legal status in the United States.

Huerta, in an essay published by Zocalo Public Square, writes that his experience has made him analogous to ... Superman? He explains:

I guess I should be inspired by Superman, arguably the most accomplished of all "illegal aliens." Literally, in his case, as he came from another planet as an infant because his parents wanted to give him a better life when his home world was annihilated. He landed on earth and was raised in the Midwest by a loving couple to become a symbol for truth, justice and the American way. Last time I checked, he was still working at the Daily Planet, getting by under the name of "Clark Kent." I hope that the e-verify system doesn't catch up with him someday; where would ICE deport him?

Huerta uses humor to address a serious and complex issue that directly affects his future and that of thousands like him. But the DREAM Act's own future is uncertain. It's had a long and nail-biting journey through Congress, tabled and revived several times, a political ping-pong ball in the bitter and often hate-filled debate over reforming the country's "badly broken immigration system."

Those are President Obama's exact words, in a statement congratulating the House of Representatives for passing the DREAM Act Dec. 8. Despite strong grass-roots opposition to the DREAM Act among Republicans, the House passed it by a vote of 216 to 198. Obama and most Democrats in Congress want the DREAM Act passed before the end of this year's lame-duck session. The bill is now before the Senate.

A Republican filibuster would require all of the chamber's 57 Democrats to join at least three Republicans or independents to pass the DREAM Act. The bill is currently delayed pending a future vote.

Read Erick Huerta's entire essay here.

-- Daniel Hernandez in Mexico City

Image: An artist's rendering of Erick Huerta, "the intrepid reporter."  Credit: Zocalo Public Square

Comments () | Archives (29)

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I'm laughing out loud at how ridiculous your comments are... it seems to me that only a few people actually know what the DREAM ACT is about and what would be required from the Dreamers.

Everything we shut our eyes to, everything we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy, and strength, if faced with an open mind.

Think about that for one second. Say we do deny these 'rewards.' They then have the choice to: 1) stay here and try their luck and give their children chances at a better life,or 2) go back to the corrupt, drug-infested, and jobless home countries. Oh yeah, they'll definitely go back.

Wrong. Most have begun to go EAST, entering the traditional Southern states and are beginning to prove their meddle there.

There is no easy street, you wouldn't have lasted a day along the path most have traveled. And that little quip about never contributing anything to society... well, sounds like you haven't either, besides unabashed ignorance. Oh wait, was that an SAT word? Oops, sorry I must have used it to get through college, and get hired at a Fortune 100 company and paying my own way through it. Cheers.

By allowing the illegals in our colleges it gives them a reason to stay. We need to make it illegal for the illegals to attend our colleges including the community college system. The less rewards we give them the more likely they will return to their homeland.

I feel so sorry for these students who were brought here by their irresponsible parents who didn't think in the consequenses of coming here illegally. They will be better in their own Countries than been in this Country begging at the Government for legal residence which I don't think is going to happen.

Well, if he thinks his superman, then he can fly back to his home country and get into the U.S. the legal way!

These people are the worst the world has to offer...Unwilling to be part of the solution in their God forsaken country...they just want to take easy street...When the LA riots spark up again across the country, these people will continue northbound to Canada...Getting as much as possible for free and never contributing anything to society...

Superman may have been an alien but he was quite an American patriot. As I recall, in the teevee series starring George Reeve, he regularly appeared flying with an American flag. He was fluent in English, working as a reporter for a Metropolis newspaper.


If his parents' were millionaire drug smugglers, should he be allowed to inherit their dirty fortune? Of course not. His age makes no difference. He should not be benefiting from his parents' crime. It's not fair, it's not right and it tells the next illegal alien to bring the kids, because immigration law doesn't apply to them.
It's very simple, if they're mexican citizens, they belong in mexico, applying for citizenship legally just like every other decent migrant in the world. I hope the education they stole while trespassing in America helps their home country.

When do we think about american peoples future?

when these 'dreamers' stand side by side with americans condemning the RECONQUISTA I'll believe.

Kid...I'm sorry but your folks made you believe too much in it: Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy...Superman??? I't about time you wake up to reality and take the proper steps in the right direction (AND that means also following the law) towards getting into the USA.

“This will be a watershed vote that Latinos will not forget,” Janet Murguía, president of the National Council of La Raza, one of the largest national Hispanic organizations, said on a conference call with reporters Friday. “There is nowhere left to hide, in the minds of Latino voters.” We are so worried. What really is annoying is that they are basically Mexican in every way. They like to claim they don't speak spanish, but then how do they speak with their parents? Culturally they are American...hahaha. Right. They will say whatever it takes to not be sent back. What I don't get,if they have an American degree...why not go back. They will probably have better luck landing a job there than they would here. Their allegiance really is with Mexico. Funny how in these articles they state that they religiously site the pledge of allegiance daily. When I was in school, they never did. "That's no my flag" "Not my country". So you want to believe these lies, go ahead. It's not the truth.

If Superman get deportee !! Who will Save the Planet ? Now the DREAM Act will save Superman and the Planet !! Wonderful article Thanks !!!

If this guy is Superman we need to put some Kryptonite along the border after he flies back to Mexico.

I wonder what Erick's parents say when he asks them what they expected to happen to him?

1. We planned to save money and move back to OUR country before it became an issue.

2. You don't need to be a legal immigrant in America you'll do fine as long as you don't get caught. If you do they'll only deport you, then you can come back.

3. Reagan gave us all amnesty once if we wait and maybe protest a little they'll do it again.

4. We never thought about it. Anything had to be better than where we used to live.

I really believe he should look to his parents for answers.

Compare yourself to Superman all you want....if 20 million people immigrated from krypton, we would all be carrying around Kryptonite and trying to find ways to deal with the massive burden these Supermen had caused...dont fool yourself by hiding in fantasy, its not the method its the numbers.

Dear Maria,

"dreamers" are actually going to create more jobs; think about it, they need to achieve a higher education diploma or serve our armed forces to be able to get a citizenship. With a higher education these "dreamers" are not going to go ahead and work as janitors or cooks; would you go and look for a job as a janitor once you just graduated, or would you rather go and apply for a loan to start your own bussines? I would take my wildest guess and assume you would follow your "dream" and apply for a bank loan. create some jobs, and if your higher education and luck permits, you would give your full potential and taxes from your prosperous business.

that would increase the jobs that America is much in need.

May God bless you. :)

It would appear that our "badly broken immigration system" just doesn't allow unlimited legal/illegal entry, much to the chagrin of those who advocate open borders. The perception of those who enter illegally is that once here, they assume all the rights and privileges of a legal citizen...or so they hope. What Americans see is millions of people coming to our borders looking for economic prosperity by immediately signing up for every social service available (this includes legal and illegal entrants). The U.S. cannot continue to afford to absorb the population overages of Mexico and Latin America, and the rest of the world; simple as that.

The problem with the DREAM act is that, without improved border/ employment enforcement and with no time limit on its provisions, it will act as one more powerful incentive for illegal aliens to cross the border, kids in tow. Of course, this is the Democrats' intention; as James Carville noted, in order to gain a perpetual majority, Democrats need to allow as many immigrants as possible to offset whites who vote Republican.

Dream on.. 'Should he be deported to a country he doesn't know, or should his status be normalized under the DREAM Act?' Yes, and a resounding No to the last question too.

Anyone like to throw a figure out there as to how much the tab is for the USA for illegal immigration? anyone? Welfare, health, education etc..Oh yeah before you jump down my there a reciprocal illegal program in Mexico for Immigrants? heck get deported (probably jailed 1st)

'An estimated 13.9 million people live in families in which the head of household or the spouse is an illegal immigrant. Illegal immigrants arriving in recent years tend to be better educated than those who have been in the country a decade or more. A quarter of all immigrants who have arrived in recent years have at least some college education. Nonetheless, illegal immigrants as a group tend to be less educated than other sections of the U.S. population: 49 percent haven't completed high school, compared with 9 percent of native-born Americans '

Hey Erick,

Superman's home planet was about to explode, did you miss that part? Last time I heard, Messico still exists, if you call that en existence.

lets see him go back to mexico in a single bound

Maria, this DREAM Act is giving these youngsters a pathway to citizenship so they can obtain legal status to receive education and prosper in the U.S.
Moreover, your point that illegal immigrants are taking jobs away from Americans is clearly nonsense. Obviously, you haven't received much of education enough to be aware of globalization...
I mean if you want to give a job to American kids with 3.0 GPA over an illegals who have 4.0 GPA just because of their statuses, go ahead. But before you post your ignorant beliefs, why don't you go do some research on this issue?

Deserving cases should be considered on an individual basis; the blanket amnesty that is the Dream Act would legalize plenty of illegal immigrants who are not at all deserving of the honor of US citizenship. In addition, it would create millions of job competitors for Americans and legal immigrants at a time of historically high unemployment.

I'm frankly rather tired of the Mainstream Media constantly highlighting this or that individual case, as if they applied to the population of illegal immigrants as a whole.

Erick is the personification of what the DREAM Act is all about. It will do for him and millions of others like him who know no other life but what they have here. These were immigrants who didn't take a boat to get here as in generations past but were loaded in the van, brought here, worked hard to accomplish goals that many of us take for granted, actually believed in the American Dream, and now are at a point where they are in a forced limbo. These are people who want to finish their education or serve in the armed forces and contribute back to the country they call home. I have seen Erick and other brave young people step up and take a stand that could result in deportation and the loss of a lifestyle as they have known it, and am honored and inspired by him.

Mexico is not a poor country. Let the presidente of Mexico worry about their citizens.
I am more in favor of helping the truly needed immigrants like from Central America, Africa, and places like that.

ohhh yeah, follow me on twitter as well to read about all of my "illegal" exploits like helping old women cross the street, volunteering at non-profits, hugging baby kitties and talking about Boyle Heights and East L.A.

Twitter: ElRandomHero

People act like the Dreamers' parents came from outer space. They have more roots in their home countries than they do with parents who came here breaking the law and probably not even speaking the language.


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About the Reporters
Ken Ellingwood
Daniel Hernandez
Efrain Hernandez Jr.
Chris Kraul
Richard Marosi
Tracy Wilkinson