CT Students for a DREAM travels to DC

This year marked the second time I’ve been to a Dream Graduation in DC (as detailed in my previous post), although they were similar at first glance, upon closer inspection, the two events become markedly different. This trip marked my own personal growth, the growth of the dream movement in CT, as well as the evolution of the dream movement on a whole.

CT Students for a DREAM brought 18 people from CT for the two days of action in DC. For many of them, it was the first time being involved with the DREAM movement on a national level. I was excited for them and couldn’t wait for them to discover the community and personal empowerment gained through this movement.

As everyone gathered before the DREAM Act Senate Hearing on the morning of June 28th, one of our high school members exclaimed “I know that guy, and that girl! From facebook!” – referring g to 2 UWD leaders, which immediately reminded me of my excited a short year ago.

We then headed to the first ever Senate Hearing on the Dream Act and attended a reception with Senator Durbin afterwards.  In the afternoon, my sister and I took some of CT group lobbying at both our Senators’ offices (Blumenthal and Lieberman). It was the first time lobbying for many of them and they were clearly nervous, but they all did a great job (I was so proud of them!). We even met with Senator Blumenthal himself (yay, photo-op!).

We slept at the same church I had stayed in for the previous year, and I couldn’t help but to appreciate how far Connecticut has come – unlike last year, my sister and I were not the only ones from CT, in fact, we had brought an entire van of CT Dreamers!

The next morning, we all donned our caps and gowns for the Dream Graduation. With the “Deportation Class of 2011” standing up front, I realized that aside from showing the growth of the group in CT, this year’s actions also showed the evolution of the DREAM movement.  Last year, the graduation was pushing for the Dream Act as a standalone Bill (still unlikely at that time). While this year, we attended the first ever Senate Hearing on the Dream Act, which shows the power that our movement now has. Last year, the tone at the Dream Graduation was jubilant, while this year the mood was much more somber. This year we were demanding that Obama stop deporting Dreamers and were holding his administration accountable for their failure to act. Further, as Jose Antonio Vargas made clear by calling himself an “Undocumented American” during his address at the graduation – we are demanding to be acknowledged as what we always knew we were – Americans.

After the Dream Graduation, we marched in 90 degree weather all the way to the White House, chanting “Education not Deportation,” “Up Up with Education, Down Down with Deportation,” and, “Obama, Don’t Deport My Mama!”. Despite the heat, I could tell that my CT team was enjoying being part of it all.

At the White House, we took part in what was the most intense direct action I have participated in. All 200 of us lined up and our “Deportation Class of 2011” told their stories and chained themselves together. We all then literally and symbolically turned our backs on the White House and the Obama Administration, shouting “End our Pain or No Campaign!” – meaning that Obama must stop the deportations if he wants the Latino vote.  We continued passionately chanting several different slogans – the heat was exhausting, but that didn’t bother us – we were empowered, we were letting the Obama Administration know that we are watching and that his actions have consequences.

 

As our CT contingency left DC later that afternoon, I reflected how this trip marked my own personal growth, the growth of the dream movement in ct, as well as the evolution of the dream movement on a whole.

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