The week before Thanksgiving break, one of my 10th grade students (who happens to be Honduran) stopped by my classroom during my lunch break for a visit. We all have those students that love to check in and seek our ear and encouragement. She started talking and it dawned on me that she had been missing a lot of days and was behind in a few of her other classes. I began “preaching” to her about her absences and maintaining her grades and doing assignments on time, eventually I asked her what she wanted to be once she was done with high school and she began to tear up… she was two when her pregnant mother and her fled to the United States illegally. Her brother was legal and her mother could remain in the states until he was 18, but her, her future was put on hold due to the ending of DACA/Dream Act. She began to pour out to me that she felt lost. She was 17 and her dreams of getting her license, driving, and joining the military felt so far away. She had begun the application process for citizenship but the end of DACA and the DREAM Act presented nothing but closed doors and applications ripped up in front of her face. Going back to Honduras meant death due to gang violence and human trafficking. She sobbed. She was stuck and feelings of fear and defeat were beginning to creep in.
I sank behind my desk. I had never known; the children sitting in my classroom had battles and burdens that I had never imagined as they smiled at me during lessons and discussions. Some of those very students came to the states without their mother and/or father, feel lost, face language barriers, are scared, have been traumatized, are poor, abused, and displaced. How could I not have known? I had no answers for her … I had always been so sure … and at that moment I wasn’t and as a woman of color in America I felt like a scared child… uncertain of my own security.
I had to do something. I had to educate myself. Her story and the story of other Dreamers needed to be heard….was she no more American than I? She and I sat at a figurative table that once wasn’t allowed only 30 to 40 years ago. My forefathers had fought and died so her and I could experience equality… who would I be to shrink and play small because I now had a small seat at the table.
If we a allow a wall today and these Dreamers to be deferred…what will we allow tomorrow?
1. What is DACA?
DACA is the executive order by President Barack Obama that covers approximately 800,000 children and young adults who were brought to the United States illegally. It does not affect all 11 million unauthorized immigrants currently in the United States.
2. What is the Dream Act?
The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act (Dream Act) is a bill that Senators Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, and Orrin Hatch, a Republican from Utah, first introduced in 2001. The Dream Act would apply to children brought to the United States illegally—often called Dreamers because of this bill—and would create a path for permanent residency and eventually legal citizenship.
3. Support organizations that provide scholarships, legal resources and mental health care to Dreamers. TheDream.US
4. Advocate for and mentor undocumented youth.
5. Donate to & attend United We Dream events. They advocate for Dreamers by providing legal counsel and mental health resources.
6. Open your heart, prayers, and resources to Dreamers.