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Illegal Immigrant Youth 'Come Out' for Reform

Young adults in Georgia risk deportation in immigration protest
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 24, 2011 12:33 PM CDT

(Newser) – Eighteen-year-old Dulce Guerrero kept quiet about being an illegal immigrant until earlier this year, when she became upset after a traffic stop that landed her mother in jail for two nights. The arrest came as Georgia lawmakers were crafting what would become one of the nation's toughest immigration crackdowns, and Guerrero feared her mother would be deported. Guerrero, who came to the US from Mexico when she was 2, first publicly announced her immigration status at a protest in March, and now she's organizing a rally set for Tuesday at the Georgia State Capitol for high school-age illegal immigrants to tell their stories.

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Another young woman, Georgina Perez, 22, crossed over from Mexico 20 years ago. She says outing her citizenship status was not just about her: "I was super nervous, [but] I had to do it because in order for students to come out, they need to see something; someone needs to set the example." The hardest thing, she said, was when she told her mother her plans. Her mother apologized for putting her in a difficult situation. "It's like you can't really fully live your life here, and she knows that and it breaks her heart," Perez says. "I thank her for bringing me here. I told her, 'Don't ever say that again. Don't apologize.'" (Click to read about Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas's 'coming out' story.)

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