After an illegal immigrant teenager killed himself allegedly because his lack of citizenship would derail his college dreams, CNN ran a segment on the "'Dream Act' Suicide" and asked his family about the importance of the liberal "Dream Act" to other illegal immigrant students.
The family of the teenager Joaquin Luno claimed that his suicide was due to stress over his illegal immigrant status and his frustration that the Democrat-supported "Dream Act" did not pass Congress – legislation which would help him achieve his goal of attending college. The second half of CNN's segment was then devoted to the status of the liberal immigration bill.
"Mendoza says the letters his brother left behind reveal his fears about being in the country illegally. He was also frustrated the Dream Act never passed," CNN correspondent Rafael Romo reported, sourcing the teen's brother, before leading into the status of the legislation.
"A new push by Democrats in Congress this year didn't go too far, either. Republican lawmakers called the bill blanket amnesty and have strongly opposed it," Romo ominously reported. Are Republicans now the bad guys for blocking legislation that a teenager deemed vitally important, at the cost of his life?
CNN later aired another comment from the teen's brother, who insisted that many other illegal immigrant teenagers are depending on the Dream Act to attend college. "It's like all these kids that are here, they're all dependent on that Dream Act, to keep on studying," Diyra Mendoza told CNN.
The report ended on a "down" note with the news that passage of the bill is currently unlikely. "But with the Congress unable to reach a compromise to reduce the deficit, and presidential elections less than a year away, the chances of any immigration reform seem very unlikely," concluded Romo.
A transcript of the segment, which aired on November 30 at 1:47 p.m. EST, is as follows:
RANDI KAYE: A teenager in Texas who dreams of being an engineer felt his status as an illegal immigrant would keep him out of college and deny him a career. His family says the pressure drove him to suicide. Rafael Romo has his story.
RAFAEL ROMO, CNN correspondent: (Voice-over) Joaquin Luna was only 18 years old. The senior at Juarez Lincoln High School in Mission, Texas dreamed of going to college. But since he was in the country illegally, that was nearly impossible.
DIYRA MENDOZA, brother of Joaquin Luna: He just saw no other way or no other option.
ROMO: His brother says Joaquin wanted to be an engineer. The sketches he left behind show his ability. But he was quickly losing hope of ever going to college, his family says. Last Friday, according to family members, he went into the bathroom, and shot himself in the head.
MENDOZA: And as soon as I pulled him out to the kitchen, I could see the bullet hole. And there was no movement, no signs of anything. He was gone.
ROMO: Mendoza says the letters his brother left behind reveal his fears about being in the country illegally. He was also frustrated the Dream Act never passed.
(on camera): The initiative would legalize young immigrants who have been in the country for more than five years if they attend college or served in the military. The Dream Act fell five votes short in the Senate last year. A new push by Democrats in Congress this year didn't go too far, either. Republican lawmakers called the bill blanket amnesty and have strongly opposed it.
Sen. JOHN CORNYN, (R-Tex.): It is a band-aid. And maybe worse, it will provide an incentive for future illegal immigration.
ROMO (voice-over): The Dream Act was also a hot-potato issue in the recent CNN debate of Republican presidential candidates.
Rep. MICHELE BACHMAN, (R-Minn.), GOP presidential candidate: The federal Dream Act, which would offer taxpayer subsidized benefits to illegal aliens. We need to move away from magnets, not offer more.
NEWT GINGRICH, GOP presidential candidate: I don't see any reason to punish somebody who came here at 3 years of age but who wants to serve the United States of America.
ROMO: Back in Texas, Mendoza is thinking of other young immigrants like his brother.
MENDOZA: It's like all these kids that are here, they're all dependent on that Dream Act, to keep on studying.
ROMO: But with the Congress unable to reach a compromise to reduce the deficit, and presidential elections less than a year away, the chances of any immigration reform seem very unlikely. Rafael Romo, CNN, Atlanta.
(End Video Clip)
KAYE: Thanks, Rafael.