US: Immigrants give blood to show citizenship

The US Congress gets closer to a possible vote on the bill, called DREAM Act.

Boston: Immigrant advocates have staged sit-ins, held rallies and gone on hunger strikes in recent days in a final push to get the outgoing Congress to pass legislation that would give illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship by going to college or serving in the military.

As Congress gets closer to a possible vote on the bill, called the DREAM Act, college-aged illegal immigrants are literally shedding blood for the cause.

A group of illegal immigrant college students or "DREAMers" as they called themselves, yesterday donated blood at Harvard University and other colleges.

The students said they wanted to show the rest of the country that they are ready to perform community service and are good citizens, even if they don`t have US citizenship.

"As someone who is undocumented...I`m not scared about giving blood," said Megha Sharma, 22, whose family came to Massachusetts from India seven years ago and who donated blood yesterday for the first time.

"I`m scared about the vote in Congress." The DREAM Act is in the pile of legislation awaiting action in the final days of the current Congress. In January, the new Congress with Republicans in control of the House of
Representatives and a reduced Democratic Senate majority is less likely to pass the DREAM Act or other immigration reform legislation.

Myrna Orozco, a 20-year-old from Kansas City, Missouri, who is spearheading the national effort, said supporters have been donating blood in the name of the cause for about two weeks.

So far, she said "DREAMers" have given blood in California, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Texas and Virginia, with more states targeted in the coming days.

In addition to donating blood, student immigrants are volunteering at homeless shelters and donating turkeys at holiday food drives. Orozco said one group in Kentucky held a food drive outside a congressman`s office and then went to donate blood next door.

US Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts said the students "are reminding everyone what it really means to be an American”.

"Only three in a hundred Americans will ever donate blood despite the need, but these kids are living out the real full measure of citizenship," he said. "They`re living, breathing testimony of the importance of passing the DREAM Act."