A Chicago City Council committee unanimously passed a resolution Friday in support of a Congressional bill that would let some undocumented immigrant students stay in the country.
Central to Friday's discussion was an emotional appeal from Rigo Padilla, a straight-A University of Illinois student who was arrested in January and accused of driving under the influence.
That arrest led to the discovery that he was in the country illegally -- and now he faces possible deportation.
"I’m not a criminal, I’m just someone who made a mistake that can now destroy my life," said Padilla, who came to the United States with his parents when he was 6 years old.
"I’ve studied in this country, I work, I pay taxes, I want to go on studying and become a lawyer," he told the Latin American Herald Tribune.
His arrest and conviction could get him deported next month, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
But under the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM), currently stalled in Congress, certain undocumented immigrant students who graduate from U.S. high schools, are of good moral character, and who arrived in the U.S. as children would have the opportunity to earn conditional permanent residency.
The bill is sponsored by Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin.
"You're being punished for something that occurred when you were 6, so I don't think you can be responsible," Human Relations Committee Chairwoman Helen Shiller (46th) told Padilla.
It's estimated that roughly 65,000 undocumented youths graduate from high school in the United States every year.