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USA: Blogging their Dreams of Citizenship

Each year, thousands of children are brought to the United States by undocumented immigrant parents and can go through regular public schooling without ever acquiring legal residency. Even if they have never known another country, they are at constant risk of being deported to their birth countries as they grow up.

A proposal for a law that would allow undocumented students to become legal residents, the DREAM Act, has so far been rejected by U.S. legislators in 2007 (similar bills were also rejected in 2001 and 2006). At least 65,000 undocumented students would benefit from its passage.

Days before President Barack Obama was inaugurated, more than 655,000 people participated in an online vote about which issues American activist website Change.org should focus on in 2009. Thanks to campaigning from DreamACTivist.org and other online immigrant activists, passing this law was selected as one of the top 10 priorities.

It’s personal

A post-graduate student and DREAMActivist in California named Prerna, describes her personal blog as, “part of a growing network of pro-migrant voices online that seek to counter the hatred and ignorance spewed by hate groups and promote meaningful immigration reform.” It's called No Borders and Binaries.

On DesiCritics, Prerna has also written about her struggle to stay in the United States. Because she is 24, she cannot claim legal U.S. residency even though her entire family has legal status. Her only “option” is to get married.

She raises other personal issues:

“Fiji: The country where I was born tells me that I am a colonizer, that I don't belong there.

India, Pakistan and Bangladesh: The countries of my ancestry predetermine me as a criminal even though I have never stepped foot anywhere in the Indian subcontinent.

The United States of America: The country where I have spent close to a decade, continues to demand a Green Card and a nine-digit number in order to accept me, regardless of the fact that the rest of my family comprises tax-paying citizens and legal permanent residents.”

Another blogger, “Somfolnalco”, a Mexican immigrant who received a university degree in 2007, questions what exactly being “illegal” means in his blog, Documenting Me.

“I would like to take this time to clarify something.

I (insert my name here) am NOT prohibited by law.

So why does this inaccurate label refuse to detach itself from me? Well because it makes things easier.

By labeling me as “illegal” I am suddenly robbed of the ability to be identified as a part of society. I am robbed of my humanity. Which in turn makes it easier for others to deny me of rights, to deny me of an identity, in essence to deny me of my being.”

Blogger Marip0sa, who is also “undocumented” explores the similarities and differences between her and “documented” Americans.

Many other voices can be found blogging across the country, including: Maria M. from Pennsylvania blogs about what the DREAM Act means on Give These Kids a Chance; “El Random Hero” living in California writes about the “Green Card Marriage,” on his blog, American Wetback; and, Alexander Spero writes about his experiences on his blog, Dreaming to Live.

The controversy from the DREAM Act is also present on YouTube, where students at the University of California in Los Angeles tell their stories in the video below. The same video was shown in a congressional hearing in May 2007.

In July 2007, students in California also posted numerous videos from a week long fast to campaign for the DREAM Act.

Is the DREAM Act fair?

For blogger Maegan la Mala of VivirLatino, the issue is personal because it affects her friends.

“I have friends who are finishing their college education pero can't find jobs because they don't have papers. I know students who are graduating high school but worry about college as an option because they don't have papers. While generally I am wary of promoting that a certain class of immigrant should be “legalized” over another, because I feel it promotes the classist ideal that only “educated” immigrants should have access to a status out of the shadows, the DREAM Act is worthwhile because it is a step in helping a younger generation of immigrants move forward and don't we all deserve the access to make ourselves better? Isn't that what that whole “American Dream” talk is about.”

Mala adds that another problem with the proposed legislation is the requirement of beneficiaries to enlist in the military.

Although the DREAM Act has a number of supporters who are immigrants, one commentator on Latina Lista, latnszzl, writes that the DREAM Act would be a “burden” despite the fact that she is also from an immigrant family.

“I am for giving people opportunities, but what I have a problem with when immigrants come here and want more education, is that the tax dollars necessary for that education are shrinking in these tough times.

Further, do Americans have the same opportunities in the countries mentioned by the applicants who want to stay? I think not. There is a double standard, that excludes foreigners from attending their institutions (not that I would want to).”

  • dado123

    At what does one acquire the ability to reason? Emanuel Kant could not answer this question? We are talking about children that were brought to the states out of their will. For instance, I overstayed my visa at the age of 6, I’m about to graduate from one of our seven Merchant Marine Academies. It is my hopes that the Dream Act will pass, education and service to this country is my priority, I’ll enlist in the U.S. Coast Guard and then become an Officer. However, the Dream Act has to pass in order for me to fulfill my potential and keep on contributing human capital to our United States.

  • http://barrioflores.net/blog Eduardo Avila

    Thanks Hoa for this article..I know many students are in this situation, and sometimes there is not much you can tell them. There are some private organizations and scholarships that don’t ask for status, but it is not nearly enough.

  • Dena

    First let me say I am not a racist. Second, the American economy is not strong enough to employ Americans never-the-less illegal aliens. It is great that they have obtained an education, but as for this moment they need to go back an effect change in their country where they have citizenship. Possibly in the future, the American economy will change. Unfortunately, we can’t keep Americans in jobs. I’m not happy about it, but that is how it is.

  • Bethania

    Dena:
    News flash: Strong or not the United States of America (America IS a continent FYI) has been, is and will continue to employ undocumented immigrants. Not passing the Dream Act is costing the U.S.A more than not passing of the Dream Act. The Dream Act would in fact help the economy.

    Also, a bad economy should should us of doing what is just, fair, and right?

    The Dream Act is fair, right and just. These children were brought to the States not knowing their parents were doing something wrong. They are not responsible for being here with an “undocumented” status!

    Go Dream Act!!!

  • http://primerpalabra.com Renata Avila

    I know some of the volunteers helping migrants. Thank you so much for this article!

  • http://www.citizenorange.com/orange kyledeb

    It’s excellent to see Global Voices covering unauthorized migrants. In trying to remedy global inequity, I feel activists often discount migrants, and I’d love to see more on this subject written here at GV.

    I’d also like to address Dena’s comment (#3). I do not believe it is productive to call people lake Dena nativist or racist, but it is important to point out that Dena’s comment is misinformed. There is not a fix number of jobs in the U.S. economy. Legalizing unauthorized migrants does not automatically take jobs away from U.S. citizens. On the contrary, it has been shown that letting more migrants in actually makes the U.S. economy more productive. The research is still out on whether this helps or hurts low-income and marginalized U.S. citizens, and legal migrants, but to say that passing the DREAM Act would be bad for the U.S. is simply incorrect. While Dena herself might not be nativist or racist, that’s precisely what nativist and racists want people to believe.

    Finally, I’ll say that the way unauthorized migrant youth have been organizing online is truly inspiring. Keep up the good work, DREAMies!

  • Dena

    Please understand that I am so torn on this issue. Even Abraham in the Bible was told by God to go out and live in a foreign land as an alien, and did so.

    Kyledeb says: “The research is still out on whether this helps or hurts low-income and marginalized U.S. citizens, and legal migrants,”

    In the southeastern U.S. there are a lot of low paying jobs. Now they pay even lower. Companies are exploiting them. And believe or not, about 3 years ago the KKK re-surfaced in several small cities for the May 5th Independence Day celebrations.

    “but to say that passing the DREAM Act would be bad for the U.S. is simply incorrect.”

    I agree and I apologize, I didn’t explain myself well. I realize we have soldiers who are serving this country with the knowledge of the extreme sacrifice they could face, as well.

    Truthfully this isn’t a child’s fault or even a parent’s fault. This is governments and businesses at fault. Thank you Ladies and Gentlemen for handling yourselves with decorum, and reminding this weary American where the fault lies: the greedy who are destroying the American Dream for us all!
    Peace!
    Respectfully,
    Dena

  • Bethania

    Dena:
    Just so that you know, for future reference. The May 5th celebration is not the Mexican independence day. It is simply a battle that was fought in Puebla, Mex. Mexicans in Mexico do not even celebrate it, if they do, it is a simple mentioning of. The true independence day is September 15 night and 16, officially the 16. The night of the 15 is “El Grito”. That is all.

  • Dena World Citizen from America

    Bethania please except my apology again. (Man, I really have blown this thread!)

    Actually here in the southern U.S., May 5th is when we jointly celebrate which somehow I have totally confused. I guess when I lived in Houston, is when my misunderstanding started.

    I found the following info:

    “When the battle was over, many French were killed or wounded and their cavalry was being chased by Diaz’ superb horsemen miles away. The Mexicans had won a great victory that kept Napoleon III from supplying the confederate rebels for another year, allowing the US to build the greatest army the world had ever seen. This grand army smashed the Confederates at Gettysburg just 14 months after the battle of Puebla, essentially ending the Civil War.

    Union forces were then rushed to the Texas/Mexican border under General Phil Sheridan, who made sure that the Mexicans got all the weapons and ammunition they needed to expel the French. American soldiers were discharged with their uniforms and rifles if they promised to join the Mexican Army to fight the French. The American Legion of Honor marched in the Victory Parade in Mexico, City.

    It might be a historical stretch to credit the survival of the United States to those brave 4,000 Mexicans who faced an army twice as large in 1862. But who knows?

    In gratitude, thousands of Mexicans crossed the border after Pearl Harbor to join the U.S. Armed Forces. As recently as the Persian Gulf War, Mexicans flooded American consulates with phone calls, trying to join up and fight another war for America.

    Mexicans, you see, never forget who their friends are, and neither do Americans. That’s why Cinco de Mayo is such a party — A party that celebrates freedom and liberty. There are two ideals which Mexicans and Americans have fought shoulder to shoulder to protect, ever since the 5th of May, 1862. VIVA! el CINCO DE MAYO!!”

    I like to learn things, so thank you for correcting me, and Viva El Grito!

  • Bethania

    No problem! I like learning new things too.

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