From The Nation, November 23, 2009 issue
The DREAM Act--a bill in Congress that seeks to create an earned path to legal status for undocumented immigrant youth--failed to pass 377 days before Obama was elected. It was introduced again sixty-five days after his inauguration, and thousands of people like me--undocumented students--are still counting the days.
Our country is home to about 2.5 million undocumented youth. Only a fraction of them have an opportunity to enroll in college like I did. That's a huge loss for our economy, because college graduates earn (and pay taxes on) twice as much income as those without high school diplomas. In 2006, five years after undocumented students were allowed to enter Texas colleges at in-state tuition rates, the state comptroller reported that undocumented workers produced $1.58 billion in state revenues, which exceeded the $1.16 billion in state services they received.
This year there is undeniable and growing energy within our movement, coming from immigrants and citizens alike. United We Dream, a youth-led immigrants' rights network mobilizing support for the DREAM Act, was established to provide a united front made up of a few national organizations, dozens of student groups and individual students hungry for change. In June hundreds of DREAMers went to Washington for a symbolic "DREAM Act Graduation." Thousands more participated in more than 120 local actions in twenty-eight states celebrating back-to-school day in September.
We need progressives of all ages and backgrounds to join in this fight. Establishing a progressive immigration policy should be a goal not only for the Latino or Asian-American communities but for all those concerned with social justice and fairness. DREAMers across the country are saying the time is now. We know--we've been counting the days-----Forum by Kristina RizzaWhen the Obama campaign inspired and mobilized a wave of new young voters, youth organizers across the country rejoiced. They anticipated increased funding from donors and foundations to help bring this growing voting bloc into policy debates and community organizing. They hoped for increased media coverage for issues ranging from college costs to green jobs to healthcare reform. Instead, youth organizers have often found themselves feeling as if they're sitting on a bus that's out of service. As markets crashed, already meager funding pools got even smaller. Most media outlets chose to spotlight the absence of youth at healthcare town halls, which were often staged at empty college campuses over the summer break, rather than the thousands of environmental and education activists who stormed Washington to support reductions of carbon emissions, creation of green jobs and the passage of the DREAM Act. And with a few exceptions, the Obama administration stopped talking to young people directly.