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In Support of the DREAM 9

By Lacey Williams, Advocacy Director
July 26, 2013

When we first heard of the National Immigrant Youth Alliance’s (NIYA) plan to send three DREAMers home to Mexico, we were very skeptical. It’s not strategic, we thought. It’s dangerous, we said. It’s silly and petulant.

But then we remembered: It’s not our place to tell anyone who is affected by this broken immigration system how to move towards their own freedom.

The fact remains that the system is very broken and, yes, even though we are closer to comprehensive immigration reform than ever before, the people most affected aren’t feeling any relief. While we wait for Congress to enact a solution, families are separated daily.

The Obama administration has hit an all time record in deporting 1.7 million people over the last several years. 1.7 million, most of whom committed no crime, most of whom were someone’s mom or dad or child or an honor student who just wanted to contribute.

Where is the justice in deporting parents and DREAMers? And if there is no justice, then there can be no peace.

This country is at war with itself over an immigration system whose brokenness drives profits for various stake holders on the backs of broken families. Profit for local police and sheriff departments who benefit financially through 287g reimbursements. Profit for private prisons that receive big money for their detention centers. Profit for corporations and businesses that can keep a low bottom line by exploiting undocumented workers. Profit and political points for politicians who can look the other way on policy to keep businesses happy while race baiting their constituents into thinking that ‘illegals’ take food from their children’s mouths. And even profit for non-profit agencies that benefit from funding streams that follow this contemporary and long-ranging issue.

Somewhere along the way, we all lost the humanity in this debate and the people affected just became numbers.

It took 3 ‘petulant’ youth activists self deporting and then having the audacity to ask to come back to put a face to the 1.7 million who have been deported, and the scores more who have voluntarily left because of harsh laws like SB 1070 and HB 56.

In spite of their bravery, we can’t even get our political and organizational friends, who swear up and down that immigration reform is coming and that they are working harder than ever to make it happen, to even sign on to a letter asking President Obama to provide humanitarian parole to the DREAM 9, who tried to come back home to their families and to their country, only to be placed in a detention center.

As advocates and as a ‘movement,’ we have to decide who we are. Now, more than ever, it is time to not let politics decide our identity.

Will we be the people who hush the more radical and risk-taking factions of our community? Even if it is those factions that can push us over the finish line? Will we let our fear of being branded ‘radical’ shame us from having the backs of our friends who risked their lives to put a new face to this movement?

Our community needs immigration reform badly. I need it because I have 2 children living with me who don’t know when they’ll ever see their parents again. If a petition could bring their parents home, then I’m pretty sure we’d all be sitting around a dinner table laughing right now. But conventional methods have been exhausted and now is time for drastic measures.

This is not a movement about policy. This is a movement about peoples’ lives.

Before we forsake members of our own community to preserve our relationships with fair-weather political friends, we must look in the mirror and ask ourselves who we want to be.

To quote someone I admire, “Politicians come and go, but our people, they always remain.”

Please join the Latin American Coalition in coming out in support of the DREAM 9. If you’re part of an organization, please have your organization sign on in support. You may also sign on in support as an individual.

Now is not the time for silence.

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