Who We Are
We are four students from Florida – Felipe Matos, Gaby Pacheco, Carlos Roa, and Juan Rodriguez – who left Miami on January 1, 2010 to embark on a 1500-mile journey to our nation's capitol. We were brought to the United States by our families when we were young. This is the only country we have known as home. We have the same hopes and dreams as other young people, and have worked hard to excel in school and contribute to our communities. But because of our immigration status, we’ve spent our childhoods in fear and hiding, unable to achieve our full potential. We walk in order to share our stories and to call on our leaders to fix the system that forces people like us into the shadows, stripping us of the opportunity to participate meaningfully in society.
Inspired by our walk, on April 10th, five immigrant students left New York City to start their own 250-mile journey. read more about the NYC walkers
Felipe Matos, 24
Felipe is ranked one of the top 20 community college students in the United States. In addition to his educational excellence, Felipe also found time to serve his peers as student government president of Miami Dade College. Born to a single mother in the slums of Brazil, Felipe was sent at age 14 to the United States, where he first dreamed of becoming a teacher. But though he has the intelligence and drive, his immigration status has prevented him from achieving this dream. Felipe has been accepted by many top colleges, but he is barred from getting financial aid. He is currently studying economics in community college, but still hopes that one day he will be able to teach young people, because he believes education is the key to pulling people out of poverty.
Gaby Pacheco, 25
Gaby was declared a “gifted student” at a very young age and has since excelled at all levels of school. In the process of securing three education degrees at Miami Dade College, she has realized what she wants to do with her many talents and education: use music therapy as a communication tool to teach autistic children and adults. Gaby came with her parents to the U.S. from Ecuador in 1993, when she was 7 years old. In 2006, federal immigration agents raided her home, and Gaby’s family has been fighting deportation ever since. She has an AA in Music Ed. AS in Early Childhood education, and a BA in Special Education K-12.
Carlos Roa, 22
Carlos was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for his country: joining the military in a time of war. But like many other undocumented students, Carlos could not realize this or any other dream – a college education, a job as an architect – because of his immigration status. Carlos was brought to the United States by his family when he was only 2 years old. High school was difficult for him and, after his mother died from a 10-year battle with cancer, he began searching for community. He wrote an impassioned letter about how lost he felt, posted it on websites, and shared it with everyone in his network. In that process he found his fellow walkers, who helped him get into Miami Dade College where he is studying architecture. While happy to be in school, Carlos still worries that as an undocumented student he won’t be able to put his education to use in a good job.
Juan Rodriguez, 20
Like many young people in Florida, the home of NASA, Juan grew up dreaming of becoming an aerospace engineer. His family brought him to the U.S. on a tourist visa from Colombia when he was 6 in response to threats to their safety in their homeland. Juan was a top student in school, but got discouraged when he realized that no matter how good his grades were or how many hours of community service he did, he could never realize his dream. Last year, Juan’s step-mother helped him to finally become a U.S. resident. As the only walker that has legal residence and as a formerly undocumented student, he feels a special responsibility to help people understand both the challenges and the opportunities facing students like him. His new dream is to earn a degree in sociology from the University of Chicago so he can go to work improving communities and helping people directly.
On Saturday April 10th, five immigrant students left New York City to start their own 250-mile journey to call for the immediate passage of the Dream Act and a moratorium on the deportation of Dream Act eligible students. They will walk through various communities raising awareness about the struggles undocumented students face and will meet with representatives to encourage them to become co-sponsors of the Dream Act.
Marisol Ramos, 25 Martin Lopez, 22 Daniela Hidalgo, 23 Jose Luis Zacatelco, 29 Gabriel Martinez, 27
The Support Team
An amazing support team is helping us to walk the "Extra Mile"
Wooten Gough (On-Site Coordinator)
Wooten is a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he first heard of the Trail of Dreams. As the Trail was leaving North Carolina, he decided to join the group and walk for his friends who are directly affected by the United States' broken immigration system. Although Wooten is a citizen he feels that as an ally, he should do all he can to help his friends and loved ones. Wooten aspires to stay active in the community for the rest of his life and eventually direct a travelling choir.
The Trail of Dreams is also made possible through the support of key organizations. The DREAMers met as part of Students Working for Equal Rights (SWER) and the Florida Immigrant Coalition. (FLIC) coordinates immigrant organizations in Florida to seek equal rights for immigrants and integration into the civic and cultural life of our communities. (SWER), which is a students-led grassroots movement that fights for just and humane immigration reform and access to higher education.
DreamActivist.org is a multi-ethnic, immigrant youth-led, social media hub for the movement to pass the DREAM Act and pursue the enactment of other forms of legislation that aim to mend the current broken nature of the immigration system. And Presente.org is a national online organizing effort that seeks to amplify the voices of Latinos and their allies.
The NYSYLC is a youth-led network representing high schools, colleges, communities of faith, and community based organizations committed to improving access to higher education and creating equal opportunity for immigrant youth and children of immigrants through leadership development and advocacy.
NDLON's mission is to improve the lives of day laborers in the US. NDLON unifies and strengthens its members organizations to be more strategic and effective in their efforts to develop leadership, mobilize day laborers in order to protect and expand their civil, labor and human rights.
Puente works to resurect our humanity by teaching and learning to eradicate intolerance when it presents itself at individuals, economic, political, social and religious setting affecting our daily existence.