UC Berkeley math and biostatistics major Terrence Park made a big splash Thursday when he came out as an undocumented student in an online advocacy campaign backed by Silicon Valley billionaire Laurene Powell Jobs.

The 24-year-old Park turns to a chalkboard to calculate the cost of deporting young illegal immigrants compared to their contributions if granted citizenship.

"So that's $23,000 to deport me," says the aspiring statistician and president of the campus math club.

And the sum benefit of staying? Some $329 billion over the coming decades, Park says, as immigrants like him get better jobs, pay more taxes, buy homes and cars and create businesses.

Math and biostatistics major Terrence Park is photographed at UC Berkeley campus in Berkeley, Calif., on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013.  Park, a  24-year-old
Math and biostatistics major Terrence Park is photographed at UC Berkeley campus in Berkeley, Calif., on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. Park, a 24-year-old Korean-born student, illustrated the economic benefits he says young illegal immigrants would contribute if they could get the citizenship path offered by the Dream Act. He made a big splash Thursday when he came out as an undocumented student in a video campaign. (Ray Chavez/Staff) (RAY CHAVEZ)

The video, filmed in a UCLA lecture hall last month, was a leap into activism for the South Korean-born student who for years avoided the limelight.

"I always kept it to myself, always tried to hide my status," Park said in an interview Thursday. "Right now it's a chance to contribute to this movement. It's the least I can do."

The "Dream is Now" campaign is being led by philanthropist Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple founder Steve Jobs, and filmmaker Davis Guggenheim, who directed "An Inconvenient Truth" and "Waiting for Superman."

Park is one of dozens of students around California and the country being tapped for the campaign to persuade Americans to open legalization pathways for illegal immigrants, especially the estimated 2.1 million young people brought to the country as children.


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Park's video is an academic counterpoint to another viral campaign by NumbersUSA, a group that has fought back against granting citizenship to immigrants here illegally.

The group's director, Roy Beck, uses jars of gumballs to make the argument that mass immigration hurts the American economy, pouring the candies into a too-small jar in a video -- also filmed in a lecture hall -- that has had more than 1.4 million views since 2010.

Beck gave a mixed review of the Berkeley student's video.

"It's a very clever video. I enjoyed it. But the whole thing's based on bogus arguments," Beck said.

Measuring the cost of deporting all the Dreamers is a "straw man" argument since no one seriously proposes doing that, and the economic benefits would be true for any young worker, he said.

"If they didn't fill those jobs, Americans would fill those jobs," Beck said. "Americans would be making that money, distributing it in the economy and paying the taxes on it."

Beck said, however, that students like Park have a compelling practical and ethical argument.

Park came to California when he was 10 with his mother and twin sisters, both also Cal students. They came on temporary visas that expired.

Math and biostatistics major Terrence Park is photographed at UC Berkeley campus in Berkeley, Calif., on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013.  Park, a  24-year-old
Math and biostatistics major Terrence Park is photographed at UC Berkeley campus in Berkeley, Calif., on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. Park, a 24-year-old Korean-born student, illustrated the economic benefits he says young illegal immigrants would contribute if they could get the citizenship path offered by the Dream Act. He made a big splash Thursday when he came out as an undocumented student in a video campaign. (Ray Chavez/Staff) (RAY CHAVEZ)

The siblings all struggled to pay their Berkeley tuition, working at supermarkets and laundromats. Park said he started off at a community college and took a year off from Berkeley to make more money. His illegal status denied him work opportunities in some campus labs where he could have gained more research experience.

Now, he and his sisters have obtained work permits and protection from deportation through the Obama administration's relief measure for young immigrants.

Admitted to graduate programs at Yale and Brown universities, Park said his prospects depend on passage of the Dream Act and moving from temporary relief to permanent residency and citizenship.

If not, "the president of the Berkeley math club will be doing some hard manual labor," he says in the video.