A project of the Center for Community Change

Fighting for a DREAM: In loving memory of Tam Tran and Cinthya Felix

by Dennis Chin, guest blogger

This past Saturday, I heard from a good friend of mine about the tragic passing of activists Tam Tran and Cinthya Felix.  I never got to know Cinthya, but heard about her courage in the struggle for immigration reform.  I knew Tam indirectly through e-mail and a few casual encounters.   Even though we never got to be friends, her personal story and her activism inspired me and many others.

Their work mostly centered around the DREAM Act, a piece of legislation that would provide a path towards citizenship for undocumented students.  Tam most famously testified before Congress in 2007 on behalf of this legislation.  Read her words here.  Three days later, her family was detained by ICE.  Cinthya made waves when she became the first openly undocumented student admitted to Columbia University’s School of Public Health in 2007.

Last night I was thinking about their families and all the hardships they endured.  In the face of these hardships, Tam and Cinthya shouldered the burden of their families and became leaders for a better future for all communities.   My thoughts are with their families.  I hope they know that their memory lives on in our lives and our work.

Three things I’m thinking about coming off this tragedy:

#1 –  Life is precious

#2 – Telling our stories is a greater act of courage than we could ever imagine

and #3 – Living our lives in service to our communities is a heroic act.

Cinthya and Tam had more to accomplish in this life, but in the short time that they were with us, they were fearless, hopeful and absolutely inspiring in their dedication to the movement.  We all can learn from them.

Here is Tam addressing Presidential candidate Chris Dodd at the Heartland Presidential Forum in 2007:

Here is a video that Tam created about the DREAM Act:

There is memorial happening today at 3 PM-5 PM PST today at UCLA.  The memorial will be broadcast here.

If you have any memories of Tam and Cinthya, please share your stories.

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