Thousands of undocumented immigrants live in the Chicago area; more than 10 million nationwide. Their stories remain mostly untold, out of fear of deportation. But Reyna Wences and her family have decided to share theirs.
Reyna came to Chicago in 2000 when she was just 9 years old, along with her mother and younger brother. Now, at age 19, Reyna is part of a growing group of undocumented youth locked between two worlds – her current life established, yet officially unrecognized even after years of living in America; and the life she barely remembers, growing up in Mexico.
Reyna graduated from elementary and high school with honors. She recently completed her first year of studies at UIC. University professors helped raise money for her tuition, and along with money Reyna and her mother had been able to save, she made it through freshman year. UIC does not ask students about their immigration status. Despite that, it is unlikely Reyna will be able to afford to continue at UIC in the fall.
The State Senate recently passed the Illinois Dream Act. The bill, sponsored by Senate President John Cullerton, would establish a private fund to create scholarships for the undocumented. And while House Speaker Michael Madigan says he supports the legislation, State Representative Randy Ramey says he doesn’t believe the bill has enough votes to pass the Illinois House.
Chicago Tonight Producer Nick Shields spoke with Reyna Wences here, and also traveled to Mexico to talk with her family. Watch WTTW11 at 7:00 pm for the full story.
And we want to know what you think. Should the children of undocumented immigrants be given a path to U.S. citizenship? Post your comments below or sound off on our discussion board.