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DREAM Act Supporters Rally Arizona Voters


Stating the obvious, young undocumented immigrants could not vote yesterday. But some young people in the U.S. without legal status found a way to participate. They walked neighborhoods in the Phoenix area, building support for legislation that could change their lives. Here's NPR's Ted Robbins.

TED ROBBINS, BYLINE: In this Central Phoenix Hispanic neighborhood of small homes and bright sunshine, a man knocking on your door with a clipboard and a yellow vest does not necessarily mean good news.

LORENZO SANTILLAN: Sometimes they think that I'm the person that's going to evict them from their apartment or whatever.

ROBBINS: Lorenzo Santillan wasn't there to evict anyone. He was there looking for voters.

SANTILLAN: I'm trying to make sure that there's people that support the DREAM Act, to support us and vote in our voice because we don't have one.

ROBBINS: When he was nine-months old, Lorenzo's father illegally brought him to the U.S. from Mexico. He's 25 now, a high school and community college graduate, still without documents.

If the DREAM Act becomes law, Lorenzo could be eligible to stay in the U.S. legally and become a citizen.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Foreign language spoken)

SANTILLAN: (Foreign language spoken)


SANTILLAN: (Foreign language spoken)

ROBBINS: This lady says she thinks her family members who can vote, did.

Lorenzo is working off a voter list which says they haven't voted yet. So he leaves some DREAM Vote literature.


ROBBINS: Down the block, Rosie Diaz is home. She's 20 and she voted for President Obama, who supports the DREAM Act. That is, after activists like Lorenzo convinced her it was important.

ROSIE DIAZ: It felt good. Yeah, definitely felt good. Like I wasn't going to vote, like I said it didn't make a difference to me but now it's like, oh, like I contributed to something that's, like, huge.

ROBBINS: All Lorenzo wants is to work legally as a chef.

SANTILLAN: Well, I want to cook, that's all I want to do. But if I have to stray away to make sure that the Latino voice is heard, then I'm going to do that because we need this, just as bad as we need air. You know, for us it's the only way to citizenship and we want the right to vote and we want the right to make our voices heard, basically.

ROBBINS: In other words, since he couldn't vote, Lorenzo Santillan had to find others to vote on his behalf.

Ted Robbins, NPR News, Phoenix. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

As supervising editor for Arts and Culture at NPR based at NPR West in Culver City, Ted Robbins plans coverage across NPR shows and online, focusing on TV at a time when there's never been so much content. He thinks "arts and culture" encompasses a lot of human creativity — from traditional museum offerings to popular culture, and out-of-the-way people and events.