Undocumented Immigrant Students Keep Up the Fight for Legalization Through Dream Act

An event in support of the Dream Act in Los Angeles - Photo: Korean Resource Center/Flickr

A 2009 event in support of the Dream Act in Los Angeles. (Photo: Korean Resource Center/Flickr)

Immigration reform supporters may be feeling the wind on their faces, but at least one group –undocumented students who arrived in the U.S. as children– is keeping up the fight. Next week, youngsters who are pushing for legislation that would allow these students to become legal residents will hold events across the country to continue pushing for the DREAM Act’s approval.

The week of action, from Monday through Saturday, will feature events in at least 16 states: from a 5k run in Phoenix to a Koreatown-East L.A. walk in Los Angeles to a movie screening in Washington D.C. to meetings in Stony Brook, Yeshiva and Fordham universities in New York.

Activists will be pushing for approval of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act as well as for the larger –and more complicated– goal of comprehensive immigration reform.

Organized nationwide largely through social media and other internet tools, the students realize the momentum has shifted from a year ago, when President Obama’s inauguration was seen as an omen of an almost sure victory for the immigration movement in general.

“The immigrant rights movement has been flooded by challenge after challenge in the past few months,” writes Kemi Bello, one of the young activists, “but we have chosen to use this period of adversity we find ourselves in to escalate and continue to fight. What other choice do we have?”

The DREAM Act would grant conditional residency to those who entered the country before they were 16 years old and have lived here for at least 5 years, as long as they show “good moral character” and have finished high school, obtained a GED diploma or entered college. They have to be under 35 years old and cannot have a deportation order pending. The resident status could become permanent upon college graduation or completion of at least two years either in a university or in the military.

The action week will include meetings with Congress members on Friday and on Saturday, activists will march in support of four students who are walking from Miami to Washington D.C. since Jan. 1 to call for passage of this bill.

“We cannot afford to wait another day,” Bello wrote, “to let another student be deported or detained, to sit by while more youth grow up without parents, to shrug our shoulders while promising high school graduates become construction workers or janitors as a result of simple lack of opportunity.”

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