A project of the Center for Community Change

Daring to DREAM

“Undocumented Students and the Struggle for the American Dream” was a powerful event organized by unashamed and unafraid immigrant students today. Students risked the danger of deportation to speak out for their cause.

“I was amazed how brave the speakers were, how strong and articulate and amazingly inspirational their words were. Their powerful stories were touching and inspiring.”

Story-telling is an important aspect of the immigration movement because each individual’s experience with our broken immigration system is different. And the student speakers were more than happy to share. Various young adults spoke of coming to this country when they were 2, 7, and 8 years old, of being separated from their parents because of the 9/11 attacks, of being searched without a warrant. They taught their sisters to read while learning English, were detained for weeks at a time, and were surprised on their 18th birthday to discover that they couldn’t get a driver’s license or vote like their friends.

One man described having to tell his friends that he was being deported, and how “it felt like getting dumped by a girl and telling people you have cancer at the same time… there is sympathy, but they can’t do anything to help.”

But against all odds, these strong young men and women displayed nothing but a fighting spirit. They are struggling to pass the DREAM Act, a federal bill that would help driven youths who have called this country home for years and strive to get a college degree or serve in our military find an avenue to citizenship. Such a bill would not give federal aid for their education, nor access to public benefits, nor amnesty, nor preference in the immigration process. It merely gives the young a chance to prove that they are hard-working, earnest, intelligent men and women who deserve a chance to stay. They want an opportunity at achieving the American Dream.

The American Dream. It’s a term that evokes a white-picket fence for some, for others a chance to go to school, and for some a chance to lead, to run their own business. If you were asked to describe what the American Dream is, what would you say? Would you talk about social mobility or an equal starting point for all? Or do you picture a nation of distorted and false reality, where the wealthy are seen by our elected lawmakers as more worthy? Does the ability to speak up for what you believe in have a place in your American Dream?

If you believe in an America of opportunity for all and want to learn more, click here.

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