Tag Archives: DREAM Act

Still Undocumented, and Still Unafraid: Undocumented Immigrant Activism in Hostile Times

By Edelina M. Burciaga

On May 17, 2010, four undocumented students and one ally walked into the Arizona office of Senator John McCain demanding that he co-sponsor the Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which would have provided a pathway to citizenship for eligible undocumented youth. Wearing graduation caps and gowns and with a crowd of supporters gathered outside, these activists staged a sit-in (Galindo 2012). Three of the four undocumented activists were arrested marking the first act of civil disobedience in the undocumented youth movement. This protest followed the first Coming out of the Shadows event held in Chicago, Illinois in March, 2010 and preceded DREAM Act Summer, a period of intense mobilization to pass the DREAM Act. During the summer of 2010, undocumented activists held hunger strikes, staged sit-ins in Washington D.C., shutdown intersections in major cities, and held rallies where undocumented youth came out of the shadows as “Undocumented and Unafraid.”

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Filed under Essay Dialogues, Immigrants Rights Activism

Undocumented Americans Confront Power

By Lorella Praeli

December of Dreams

Dressed in graduation caps and gowns, their faces gleamed with optimism.  On December 18, 2010, undocumented immigrant youth and their allies lined up outside the nation’s Capitol to witness the U.S. Senate vote on the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.  Hundreds of students from across the nation descended on Washington to watch what they hoped would be the culmination of their organizing efforts. For weeks, months, and for some, even years, these youth had organized a series of political actions to draw attention to their plight: their undocumented status.  Their tactics, which ranged from acts of civil disobedience to hunger strikes and “coming out” rallies, had galvanized youth and young adults and propelled them to publicly declare their undocumented identity.  On this date, they sat through public statements that criminalized their presence and rendered them “illegal.” And, together, they saw, once again, DREAM fall short by five votes of overcoming a Senate filibuster. 

To vote “yes” on the DREAM Act may have cost some legislators their political careers, though probably not. For DREAMers, the failure to pass this piece of legislation translated into more years of deferred dreams, substandard wages, and a life that confines them to the shadows. 

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Filed under Essay Dialogues, Student Activism in Social Movements