I had the chance to interview David Cho a couple of days ago. Many of you know him as a tireless advocate for the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform. He’s also an impressive drum major for the UCLA Marching Band. He offers these thoughts on wanting to defend this country we all call home.
1. Tell us about yourself?
My name is David Cho and I’m a fourth year student at UCLA, studying International Economics and Korean. I hope to graduate next quarter. I came to this country when I was nine years old with my parents and my two younger sisters. When I first got here, it was really hard to adjust to the lifestyle and I recall being physically and verbally abused by bullies. In the end though I studied really hard and did very well in high school, which got me to attend college. After I found out about my undocumented status, I’ve been actively organizing and advocating for the passage of the DREAM Act and raising awareness for much needed comprehensive immigration reform (CIR).
2. As a Korean American undocumented student, what kind of challenges do you face?
Among many things, undocumented immigrant students face financial difficulties, especially when it comes to paying for college tuition and living expenses. We are not eligible to receive financial aid and other grants and scholarships. This makes it hard for us to stay in school.
In terms of Korean American undocumented students, I think it’s hard for us to find a network of peers we can depend on and have the level of comfort to share stories and lend mutual support. Sometimes I feel like we are like a minority within the undocumented immigrant community. It’ll take time to continue to build the activism of Korean American undocumented students and I’m confident that we will grow in numbers and strength. Part of my will to continue to organize and speak publicly is that I hope to inspire my peers and ignite their confidence to join our movement and believe that we can really make a difference.
3. What do you want to do after you graduate from college? And Why?
I think it depends on my situation. If the DREAM Act doesn’t pass, I will probably stay in school and apply for graduate school. If it does pass, I want to serve in the military, preferably the Air Force. I’ve always wanted to join the Air Force since I was a kid. One of my cousins served in the military and two of my other cousins are in the Army right now. I get a lot of advice and encouragement from them.
4. Why do you want to serve in the military even though it has a mixed record and opinions?
People have differing views about the military, but for me, being able to defend my country is something that I have wanted to do for a long time. There are also education benefits to joining the military, and I know I would like to pursue graduate school in the future.
5. How would you respond to those who oppose the military option in the DREAM Act?
At first, I also opposed the military provision. I thought that if students who wanted to contribute through community service should have the opportunity to do so. But, I feel that this provision will allow for better chances to get broader bi-partisan support and also open up doors for DREAMers who want to serve in the military.
6. Is there anything you would like to add for our readers?
I’m really hopeful for the DREAM Act. I know we will all work hard and create momentum like never before. But, if for some reason it doesn’t happen, that will only get us to try harder.
For information on what is going on with Congress, the DREAM Act and how you can help, please visit http://bit.ly/novdream
Already know what’s happening? Start making your calls to Senator Reid by using the suggested script and call-in number below provided by DREAM University – http://on.fb.me/ourdreamnow
To Senator Reid (866-877-5552):
“Hi, my name is ________________. I´m calling to Congratulate Senator Reid for his reelection and to remind him that we will hold him accountable for his promise to bring the DREAM Act for a vote during the lame duck session of the 111th Congress. Thank You!”
Afterwards, update your status:
¨I called Senator Reid at 1 866- 877- 5552 and asked him to bring up the DREAM Act for a vote during the 111th Congress. Please do the same.¨