This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
David Morales stood on the altar, encircled by activists holding hands, and offered a prayer for undocumented immigrants looking for a way to gain legal status in the United States.
Among those for whom he was praying? Himself.
Morales, a 19-year-old Salt Lake Community College student, held a news conference Monday in a church to tell his story of being picked up by federal agents while en route to Louisiana to attend a Bible college so he could eventually become a pastor.
"I put everyone … in your hands," he prayed. "I put these laws in your hands. With you, God, everything is possible."
But for now, things are also in the hands of a Utah immigration court judge, who will hear his deportation case Oct. 6.
Morales, dressed in a dark suit and tie, displayed some of his preaching techniques during a 15-minute speech that asked politicians to pass the DREAM Act a piece of legislation originally authored by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, that would grant children of undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship by requiring military service or attending college.
Hatch, however, has backed away from the legislation and has said it's being used by Democrats as a political tool.
The DREAM Act most recently failed late last year when it passed 55-41, but needed an additional five votes to defeat a filibuster. Hatch missed that vote because he was attending a family member's graduation.
"It's time to show our parents we are not criminals and that we will no longer be ashamed of their desire for a better life for us," Morales said. "We are undocumented, unafraid and unapologetic."
Standing behind him, several supporters held up signs that read "Who Would Jesus Deport?" and "No Wasted Talent." Occasionally, they chanted, "We want an education, not deportation."
Ron Mortensen, co-founder of the Utah Coalition on Illegal Immigration, said he's not entirely opposed to the DREAM Act, but said the current set-up is unfair. He said a pathway to citizenship being granted to an undocumented immigrant serving in the military should not be equal to the requirement of two years in college.
"One can join a radical group and protest the war and demand social benefits and he's on the pathway to citizenship while another is in Afghanistan getting his butt shot at?" Mortensen said. "Let's do things fairly."
After Morales gave his speech and prayer at Centro de Vida Cristiana, he walked out with the activists and was trailed by reporters who were told he would take questions about his plight.
That's when things got a little surreal.
Instead of taking questions, the teen simply walked to his car and sped off down the street leaving reporters flummoxed and Salt Lake Dream Team activist Diego Ibañez left in the parking lot to answer questions. He apologized and said Morales did not intend to take questions and that the information provided saying otherwise was a mistake.