The mighty Dreamers
Today these young leaders held a symbolic graduation ceremony at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation in Capitol Hill. They were joined by Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) and immigration advocate leaders, parents and supporters. Afterward, they rallied the streets around the Capitol building with signs demanding "education and not deportation".
This is a brief post with short videos and photos that I recorded during today's inspiring actions of the "Dreamers" as these young activists like to call themselves. These students are lobbying today and tomorrow at the U.S. Senate offices so that the DREAM Act bill to be introduced for vote, before the Congressional Summer recession.
You can help, check the info at the end of this post.
They rallied for a Dream
Every step I took, it felt like I was about to pass out. I could feel the heat on top of my head, my heart was beating so hard and I could feel its beat every time I had to breathe that humid, hot air. I had to stop walking aside with the Dreamers, a group of young undocumented Americans who rallied today around the Congress building to demand a piece of paper that will change their lives forever.
To my right side I could see the Capitol, that huge building that represents so many contradictions in the United State history. Both a testimony of a past of slavery and oppression, it's also the space where are laying the ideals of those who dreamed of a great country, a nation of equality for all men and women.
To my left, hundreds of young Americans were chanting with such strength that I could hear them from far away. At first, I wondered where they got all that energy from but then I remember their words at their symbolic graduation ceremony early on.
I couldn’t do it any longer, my body had given up, the heat of this horrendous summer in D.C. had put a limit to my resistance. At that moment, I thought about those who had to cross the border to get into this country, how brave the parents of those kids screaming “We are the Dreamers!”
Soon I walked into the Capitol Visitor Center to rest and drink some water, and once inside I sat on a bench away from the crowds. I closed my eyes. In my mind I started seeing the faces of the young leaders marching today, I saw their sorrow, their pain, their hope, their thirst for justice. Their struggle is the same of millions, their fight is our fight.
Most of these students are undocumented, some are not even adults. They have come driving buses from distant places, as far as California, Texas, Oregon, Oklahoma and North Carolina, some from New York, Illinois, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts. And I have met many of them. It felt like this was a family reunion, they all are bound by something very strong.
Getting ready to rally
Today, I have met the U.S. Army soldier who has just returned from Iraq, he is here in DC with his undocumented soon-to-be wife, who is fighting for the future of her friends who unlike her, don’t have any choice to legalize their immigration status. This Chicano soldier will be deployed again to Iraq soon.
I met students who can hardly speak Spanish, and they feel [and seem] they are as "Americans" as the Congress members who they hope will vote for the Dream Act. Some of these kids crossed the U.S.-Mexico border as little toddlers, in their parents arms. They don’t regret the sacrifice, they love this nation.
There was this African American young man who is also supporting her wife who used to be an undocumented student, but now she is an organizer in New York for a Dream Act advocacy organization. And the Peruvian-born student who held a 15-day hunger strike in North Carolina, and had to be taken to an Emergency room of a local hospital.
Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) was one of today's speakers at the symbolic graduation ceremony of hundreds of undocumented students in Washington, DC.
The Dream Act students are covering their own expenses with their savings and the solidarity of friends, relatives, organizations and churches. They are sleeping in crowded rooms in homes and churches around DC, because no one can afford a hotel room. They are eating donated food, facing harsh conditions.
But they don’t seem to care. They are strong and decided to fight for their rights and those like them living in the shadows, for the only chance they have to officially become part of this country.
Their fear is gone, there is nothing that can stop them now. Not even the hot temperatures inside of that Capitol Hill church mattered. They “graduated” today in front of a U.S. Senator and immigration advocacy leaders. Amazing speeches were given, these students are so motivated and inspired!
See, the Dream Act students are not just regular people. These are true revolutionaries, leaders and builders. They are setting a path that many will follow. Most of them are undocumented, some have being in prison before for that reason already. Today they walked in the streets of Washington, DC, demanding for a chance to improve their lives, for a document that would prove what they already known: that they are the future of the United States.
Not sure if I fell asleep or I fainted. I was awakened by a U.S. Capitol police officer who was rather rude and sarcastic, but I didn’t care this time. I stood up and cleaned tears and sweat. When I walked to the nearest Metro station, I was happy because I had just witnessed a beautiful act of solidarity and unity, one of many actions of a growing social movement that will define the future of many communities across the United States.
I couldn't finish the rally along the Dreamers, but I saw and heard them chanting in front of the Cannon building, where the 100 Senators have their offices. That sight was precious.
This dream is coming through. These young Americans deserve it.
All photos and videos by Carlos A. Quiroz
So far, the DREAM Act bill has 40 Senators as co-sponsor, and 10 to 15 Senators have promised to vote for the bill if it's introduced as a stand alone legislation.
Please call Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) offices and express your support for the DREAM Act bill, so it can be introduced for vote before the Summer recession: 202 224-3542.
Also contact your Senator office and ask them to support the DREAM Act.
This is a very narrow chance to act, let's help these guys now!
Program for Wednesday July 21th:
11AM-1PM Press Conference: West front of the Capitol building, in front of the Reflecting Pool near 1st Street NW.
1:00PM-5PM Lobby Day in Capitol Hill.
DREAM Act student activist detained by ICE
DREAM Act student activist detained by ICE