On Sept. 23, 2009, dreamers across the country raised their voices in a national back-to-school day of action at university campuses across the United States and asked lawmakers for the passage of the DREAM Act.
The DREAM Act is a piece of proposed legislation that has been in limbo for years in the United States. It would create an avenue through which undocumented immigrant students who came to the United States as children could obtain conditional legal residence. While American lawmakers continue to debate whether the act should be passed, thousands upon thousands of students continue to struggle to obtain higher education without knowing whether they will ever be permitted to work in their home country legally.
The National Dream Act Day of Action was initiated by the United We DREAM Coalition and was supported by dozens of organizations across the nation's campuses last week. The day of action was planned to remind government how many thousands of students are affected as they wait for lawmakers to take action.
In a press release from the National Immigration Forum, executive director Ali Noorani said in support of the campaign:
The plight of thousands of students who are culturally American, caught in the limbo of our laws, and who cannot fully integrate into our society remind us of what is at stake in the DREAM Act. Each year that passes by with Congress failing to act on immigration, America looses a vital asset: an educated class of promising immigrant students who have demonstrated a commitment to hard work and a strong desire to be contributing members of our society.
Mainstream media coverage
And if lawmakers weren't paying attention, the dozens of events across the country at least attracted the attention of mainstream media who covered the campaign extensively.
In New Mexico, a campus saw “dozens” of groups join forces to gather signatures for its petition calling lawmakers to support the DREAM Act. In Orlando, Florida, students held posters stating, “What crime did we commit?” and “There are no illegal aliens, only undocumented humans.” And in Wisconsin, one state leader told a media outlet Congress should pass the Act.
The story of Ernestina
Blogger Teresa Puente from Chicanisma wrote about one young woman, who's life is currently on hold because of failure to pass the DREAM Act.
Ernestina came to the United States from Mexico when she was 3 years old.
Her parents brought her here and they overstayed a visa and became undocumented immigrants.
Now she is 19 and has lived in Chicago all her life. She was the valedictorian of her high school class. She is a sophomore at a state university and aspires to become a graphic designer.
But her dream may never come true. Her only chance to become a legal resident is if Congress passes the DREAM Act.
Status of Jorge-Alonso Chehade
Peruvian-American Alonso is currently being threatened with deportation and may be forced to leave the U.S. However, there may still be hope for the 22-year-old, who recently graduated from University of Washington. Alonso was originally scheduled to leave the country last week, but with the assistance of over 3,400 Americans who signed petitions and telephoned officials — his deportation has been delayed. He writes at DreamActivist:
During these difficult times and this endless campaign, it is the support of all you that keeps me running and optimistic. I don’t even know how to thank you enough for co-signing and writing those letters, and making those calls on my behalf. I am still in the country because you cared and did something about it.
But the work isn't over yet for Chehade and his supporters. He's asking Dreamers to turn up the pressure on senators and allow for him to stay in the country he's known for the majority of his adult life.
I humbly ask you to keep making those calls. Keep urging Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell to introduce a private bill that will stop my deportation for the long term.
See Global Voices special coverage page about the DREAM Act