Obama Recognizes CSN Student in Immigration Reform Speech

Alan Aleman working on DACA applications

Alan Aleman

By Ricardo Torres

President Barack Obama mentioned our 20-year-old College of Southern Nevada student Alan Aleman by name in a speech he gave about immigration on Jan. 29, 2013.“Growing up, Alan went to an American school, pledged allegiance to the American flag, felt American in every way and he was. Except for on paper,” President Obama said, while highlighting Aleman’s story during a nationally-broadcasted immigration-reform speech held at a Las Vegas high school, Del Sol.

Aleman was born in Mexico and was brought to America as a child. “They were looking for a better future,” Aleman said about his parents. His family immigrated to the United States from Mexico when Aleman was 11 years old. Because of their undocumented status, there was a chance of deportation.

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, nearly three million immigrants under the age of 24 are undocumented. Many of them were brought into the United States as children.

Politicians in Washington, D.C. are working on immigration reform now. New opportunities have surmounted, which benefited Aleman. He wanted to become an American citizen and he’s on track to do so.

Aleman obtained a two-year work permit after meeting immigration qualifications. He became one of the first Nevadans granted the permit.

In an attempt to slow down deportations of young immigrants, DHS issued the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals memorandum in 2012 that will exempt many young and law-abiding immigrants from being deported for at least the next two years. Aleman is involved with this. He helps other immigrants with DACA applications.

“Thank you President Obama, I got my work permit,” said Aleman, when he briefly met the president at the Las Vegas speech. President Obama congratulated him and encouraged him to continue working hard.

A few days after, Aleman received an invitation from the White House to attend the State of the Union as First Lady Michelle Obama’s guest.

“For me, it was an honor and a great opportunity,” Aleman continued.

Aleman has become a role model and highly involved in his community. He is a director for the Latin Chamber of Commerce where he promotes education within the Latino community. He is also part of Southern Nevada Chapter Board of Directors of American Red Cross.

“If I help them, they’re going to help others. If you want to understand your community, you have to be involved with your community,” Aleman said.

Aleman has made a great impact as his colleagues and professors note.

“He doesn’t play the victim card. He doesn’t use that to his advantage,” CSN student Alejandra Romero said.

According to Romero, Aleman’s aid was crucial in the success of a Latino Youth Leadership Conference that received media attention and an abundance of positive feedback. He spent countless hours recruiting students in many high schools.

“There’s so much aspiration, so much kindness and so much energy towards all his obstacles encountered,” said Pablo Juarez, a CSN psychology student close to Aleman.

“Several exceptional qualities come to mind when I think of Mr. Aleman: maturity, critical thinking and a passion for education with uncanny ability to get the job done under very trying circumstances,” said Carlos Ezeta, professor and counselor at CSN.

Aleman dreams of joining the Air Force and becoming a doctor in Nevada. He strives to help others in similar circumstances achieve their dreams. Aleman encourages them to obtain an education, contribute to their communities, do volunteer work and never lose hope.

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