Undocumented Students Speak Out for DREAM Act

Gaby Pacheco, 25, is an undocumented immigrant advocating for the DREAM Act on "Washington Unplugged," Dec. 3, 2010.

She's 25, has three degrees and teaches music to autistic children.

But Gaby Pacheco is still chasing an elusive dream.

She's undocumented.

Her family immigrated to the United States in 1993, when she was seven.

In 2006, federal immigration agents raided her home, and her family's been fighting deportation ever since.

Pacheco and three other undocumented students just completed a 1,500 mile walk from Miami to Washington, D.C. to share their stories and urge lawmakers to pass the DREAM Act, or the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act.

On "Washington Unplugged," Pacheco told CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer that despite talk of the bill dying in the lame duck congressional session, she's hoping it will pass by Christmas.

"This legislation would allow students like myself who came to United States as children the opportunity to give back to the country we call home, the opportunity to serve in the military and fight in the line of duty hand-in-hand with our friends, the people we grew up with and at the same time have the opportunity to go to college and come back and give to the economy," Pacheco said.

She has a high-powered ally. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has said passage of the the DREAM Act would enable DHS to focus more aggressively on deporting foreign criminals.

It would offer undocumented young people who arrived in the US as minors a way to gain legal status if they pursue higher education or military service.

Pacheco told CBS News that undocumented students just want a chance to prove that they are "part of a solution, not a problem," and they just want a chance to give back.

"Washington Unplugged" airs live daily at 12:30 p.m. ET on CBSNews.com.

  • Tolleah Price

    Tolleah Price is an associate producer for CBSNews.com.