While Latino citizens and celebrities alike condemn Arizona’s controversial SB 1070 law, a highly motivated group of young Latino leaders are fighting for their chance at the dream—the Dream Act, that is. The proposed legislation, introduced nearly a decade ago, would allow qualifying undocumented youth to be eligible for a 6-year-long conditional path to citizenship, provided they obtain a college degree or serve in the military.
In New York City since June 2nd, a group of 10 undocumented students continue to starve themselves outside of Sen. Chuck Schumer’s office, living off water and salt as a way to pressure him to pass the Dream Act as a standalone bill. Schumer, who sits on the Judiciary Committee and is Chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees, and Border Security, would prove to be an invaluable voice.
This past Sunday, the same organization, the Youth Leadership Council, held a vigil marking the 70th hour of the hunger strike (the number 70 holds special significance as it represents the more than 70,000 students who were brought over to the United States illegally by their parents as children and whose dreams have been deferred due to the lack of leadership in Congress).
The NYC strikers are not alone. Around the country, students have escalated their protests, risking arrests and deportation. On May 17th, dressed in caps and gowns, Mohammad Abdollahi of Michigan, Yahaira Carrillo of Kansas, Tania Unzueta of Chicago, Raul Alcaraz of Arizona, and Lizbeth Mateo of California, held a sit-in at Sen. John McCain’s office. After being arrested on trespassing charges, they have since been released. They now face deportation proceedings and have been assigned a June 16th court date.
Earlier this year, Miami Dade Community College students Felipe Matos, Gaby Pacheco, Carlos Roa, and Juan Rodriguez embarked on the "Trail of Dreams," a five-month, 1500-mile walk from Miami to Washington, D.C. to push for the same cause. Their motto? "Education not deportation."
For more information, visit dreamactivist.org.