Your One Stop Online Petition Shop, July 11

If you’re regularly trolling around DREAM Act circles online, you probably often come across petitions. Petitions for END cases, in support of In State Tuition Bill, against anti-immigrant legislation or amendments, the list goes on and on ….

It can be overwhelming! You want to sign them all, but it’s hard to keep track!

Well, I’m here to help! This is your One Stop Shop for Online petition signing! I’ve scoured blogs, websites, and forums to make our “arm chair activism” (as I like to call it) even easier!

Check out this week’s selection … neatly categorized!

 

Education Not Deportation Petitions!

 

Stop Erick’s Deportation

Erick came to the United States when he was only two years old. Now 22, he has lived in North Carolina for the majority of his life. One night Erick Velazquillo was pulled over driving with his high beams on. He was arrested and spent 3 days in jail. On July 19, a judge in immigration court might send him back to a country he doesn’t remember. Erick is an athlete and an aspiring nutritionist; he has every desire to stay and live in the U.S. as the American he already is. If deported, he will be sent back to a country he hasn’t been to in 20 years!
Please sign the petition and help us stop Erick’s deportation.
http://action.dreamactivist.org/erick

.. or even better Call DHS – Janet Napolitano (202-282-8495) and ICE – John Morton (202.732.3000)
Sample Script: “Hi, I was calling to ask that Erick Velazquillo’s deportation be deferred. Erick (A# 200-97-0380) has been living in the United States since he was 2 years old. If deported, he will be returned to a country he hasn’t been to in 20 years. Erick wants to contribute to this country as a nutritionist. Don’t deport Erick.”

 

Stop the deportation of Alberto!

The latest Washington DREAMer to be caught In the ICE deportation web is Alberto Yañez of Elma, Washington. Alberto  has lived in the United States since he was 1 ½ years old and is now 24 years old. He is the father to three US citizen children, ages 4, 19 months, and 5 weeks. He also has 2 US citizen brothers. On November 16, 2010 everything changed when he was detained by ICE at his home then spent approximately 30 days in the Tacoma Detention Center. His next scheduled hearing date with ICE is July 7th, when he could be deported. http://www.change.org/petitions/stop-the-deportation-of-productive-young-american-dreamer-alberto-yanez?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=share_petition

http://wfc2.wiredforchange.com/o/8496/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=6417

 

Stop Hermengildo’s Deportation

Hermengildo Reyes came to the United States in 1999 seeking a better life. He has been living in Georgia ever since. He was arrested in Cobb County, GA and taken to a detention center until he was released to his family. He is set to be deported on July 19, 2011. Hermengildo has 3 U.S. citizen children and 2 of them suffer from learning disabilities and speech impairment. If Hermengildo is deported, his 2 children won’t have anyone to care for them and won’t receive the medical attention they need.
http://action.dreamactivist.org/reyes
… or even better  Call DHS – Janet Napolitano (202-282-8495) and ICE – John Morton (202.732.3000)
Sample Script: “Hi, I was calling to ask that Hermengildo Reyes’ deportation be deferred. Hermengildo has been living in Georgia since 1999. He has 2 U.S. citizen children with learning disabilities who need him in the United States. Please don’t deport Hermengildo Reyes.”

 

Stop Deportation of the Mathe Karekezi Family

Andy Mathe (A#88-488-386) is being threatened with immediate deportation, to the point of being told ‘next time we will drug you and deport you.’ We need you to take urgent action, the entire family is fighting their deportation, however Andy is currently detained and could be deported any minute now. 

http://action.dreamactivist.org/mathefam/

 Call DHS – Janet Napolitano (202-282-8495) and ICE – John Morton (202.732.3000)
Sample Script: “I am calling to ask that Andy Mathe (A#88-488-386) and his family be allowed to stay.  If deported the entire family could be killed, please grant deferred action for the Mathe Family.”

 

Stop Mercedes’ Deprotation!

Mercedes came to the United States from Mexico at the age of 11. She is now 18 years old. On May 15th, 2011, a Sunday after going to church in Nashville, a police officer pulled over Mercedes Gonzalez for driving less than 10 miles over the speed limit. The officer asked Mercedes about her immigration status, put her in handcuffs and took her to jail. Mercedes and her family were devastated, as she was graduating from high school the following Saturday. Mercedes spent approximately 3 days in jail, and was told by immigration officials that she would never go back to school, graduate from high school or see her family again. Sign this petition to ask Janet Napolitano to grant deferred action to Mercedes.

http://wfc2.wiredforchange.com/o/8496/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=493

 

Stop Julio’s Deportation!

Julio, a Bronx Community College student, faces an imminent deportation order after being detained in Greyhound bus. He is set to be deported back to El Salvador where he faces gang violence due to his sexual orientation. Julio came to the United States in 2007, fleeing threats on his life from gang members.  Julio is a bright, hard-working college student who has aspirations to contribute and serve his community as a radiologist. His life is in your hands.
http://action.dreamactivist.org/julioh/
Call DHS – Janet Napolitano (202-282-8495) and ICE – John Morton (202.732.3000)
Sample Script: “Hi, I was calling to ask that Julio Enrique Hernandez Moreno’s deportation be deferred. If Julio is returned to El Salvador, he will face gang violence because of his sexual orientation. Julio wants to contribute to this country as a radiologist. Don’t deport Julio.”

 

 Stop Denis’ and Vinny’s Deportations!

Vinny and Denis have a lot in common. They are both Brazilian immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as young teenagers and are currently living in Massachusetts. Both of them dream of one day becoming engineers and are currently enrolled in engineering programs to achieve this goal. Unfortunately, both of these young men are currently in deportation proceedings. http://wfc2.wiredforchange.com/o/8496/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=512

 

Anti-Immigrant Legislation

 

Tell CT Gov. Malloy to Pull out of Secure Communities

Governor Malloy exhibited true leadership in calling for deferred deportation for local DREAMer Mariano Cardosso.  He was also a supporter of CTs own DREAM legislation.  He should follow that up by standing up for the thousands of families affected by this program. Both the State of Illinois and the State of New York have pulled out of this program.  Connecticut should follow suit. Help us in asking Governor Malloy to pull out of the Secure Communities Program — sign the petition! http://www.change.org/petitions/governor-malloy-pull-out-of-the-secure-communities-program

 Gov. Brown: Take California out of the S-Comm Program

Sign the petition to join California Representatives in calling on California governor, Jerry Brown, to take California out of S-Comm immediately. http://www.change.org/petitions/gov-brown-take-california-out-of-the-s-comm-program-no-more-arizonas

Tell Boston to stand against Secure Communties!

Sign this petition to help stop deportation of Brazillian DREAMer detained in a raid. http://www.change.org/petitions/its-time-for-boston-to-stand-against-s-comm-now?utm_medium=twitter

Remove Anti-Immigrant Amendments from Massachusetts Budget

MA State Senators have attached anti-immigrant, anti-worker, and anti-family amendments to the Senate version of the state budget. The budget is now in conference and we must let the chairs of that committee know that these outrageous amendments are unacceptable http://www.change.org/petitions/remove-anti-immigrant-amendments-from-massachusetts-budget

 Stop Alabama HB 56!

Alabama’s Governor just signed House bill 56 into law.  This bill is worse than the Arizona and Georgia Bills.. It bans undocumented youth from all colleges and universities, requires all K-12 school children to prove immigration status, requires parents of children to sign an affidavit with school as to their own immigration status, and requires implementation of E-Verify across the state. Sign the petition asking the Obama administration to step in. http://action.dreamactivist.org/alabama/

Tell Gov Haley to Veto SB 20 Immediately

The South Carolina State Legislature voted in favor of SB20, an Arizona SB1070 copycat legislation that gives police the authority to check someone’s immigration status during something as simple as a traffic stop. Sign this petition to urge Governor Haley to veto SB20 immediately!  http://action.dreamactivist.org/southcarolina

 Tell NC Gov Perdue to Veto Bill 36

HB 36 has passed both houses of the state legislature. It would require employers to use the flawed E-Verify system to check the status of workers they hire. Sign petition urging the NC governor to veto this bill. http://www.change.org/petitions/oppose-mandatory-e-verify-in-north-carolina-hb-36#signatures

 *Disclaimer: online petition signing is not a substitute for on the ground activism. Consult your local immigrant rights organizations for next steps

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Your One Stop Petition Shop

If you’re regularly trolling around DREAM Act circles online, you probably often come across petitions. Petitions for END cases, in support of In State Tuition Bill, against anti-immigrant legislation or amendments, the list goes on and on ….

It can be overwhelming! You want to sign them all, but it’s hard to keep track!

Well, I’m here to help! This is your One Stop Shop for Online petition signing! I’ve scoured blogs, websites, and forums to make our “arm chair activism” (as I like to call it) even easier!

Check out this week’s selection … neatly categorized!

 

Education Not Deportation Petitions!

Stop Julio’s Deportation!

Julio, a Bronx Community College student, faces an imminent deportation order after being detained in Greyhound bus. He is set to be deported back to El Salvador where he faces gang violence due to his sexual orientation. http://action.dreamactivist.org/julioh/

STOP DEPORTATION OF THE MATHE KAREKEZI FAMILY

Andy Mathe (A#88-488-386) is being threatened with immediate deportation, to the point of being told ‘next time we will drug you and deport you.’  Urgent action is needed –  Andy is currently detained and could be deported any minute now.  On Friday we managed to get him out of the airport, yesterday he talked his way out of the plane, but if they try to deport him again he may not be so lucky. http://action.dreamactivist.org/mathefam/

Ricardo Needs your Help!

Ricardo Muniz is a 22-year old college student in California, environmentalist, community activist, teen mentor, DREAM promoter, son, and brother. He wants to go on to pursue a double major in international business and environmental economy.  He is originally from Michoacan, Mexico, and was brought over by his parents to the United States when he was seven years old. http://www.change.org/petitions/dreamer-fights-to-stay-in-the-us-ricardo-needs-your-help

 Stop Elier’s Deportation

Last year, Elier was on a trip to New York with his high school to compete at Nationals for Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship (SAGE). After placing in the highly competitive field, Elier was singled out at the airport before his team boarded to fly back to his home in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is set to be deported to Mexico, a country he hasn’t been to since he was 4 years old. http://action.dreamactivist.org/elier/

 Stop Raul’s Deportation

Raul Zamora came to the United States with his family from Mexico when he was 10 years old. Raul, who is now 21 years old, is an Urban Studies Major at the University of Texas in Austin. He was then transferred to ICE, and was put in deportation proceedings after being stopped by the University of Texas Police Department for a broken taillight. http://wfc2.wiredforchange.com/o/8496/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=457

 Stop Denis’ and Vinny’s Deportations!

Vinny and Denis have a lot in common. They are both Brazilian immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as young teenagers and are currently living in Massachusetts. Both of them dream of one day becoming engineers and are currently enrolled in engineering programs to achieve this goal. Unfortunately, both of these young men are currently in deportation proceedings. http://wfc2.wiredforchange.com/o/8496/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=512

 Stop Deportation of Sister Karen and Lizza

Karen and Lizza came to the United States from Peru with their parents in 2002 when they were nine and thirteen years old. Today, they are eighteen and twenty two. Both sisters are now facing deportation, after ICE raided their home on January 25, 2011. http://wfc2.wiredforchange.com/o/8496/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=344

 Help Stop the Deportation of Teen DREAMer, Luisa Argueta, and Her Mom

Brenda and her daughter Luisa (age 19) have lived in the United States since Luisa was four months old. Brenda married Jose, who is a lawful permanent resident and the only father Luisa has known. Brenda and Jose also have two U.S. citizen daughters. The family is about to be torn apart by Brenda and Luisa’s imminent deportation. http://www.change.org/petitions/help-stop-the-deportation-of-teen-dreamer-luisa-argueta-and-her-mom

Anti-Immigrant Legislation

Remove Anti-Immigrant Amendments from Massachusetts Budget

MA State Senators have attached anti-immigrant, anti-worker, and anti-family amendments to the Senate version of the state budget. The budget is now in conference and we must let the chairs of that committee know that these outrageous amendments are unacceptable http://www.change.org/petitions/remove-anti-immigrant-amendments-from-massachusetts-budget

 Stop Alabama HB 56!

Alabama’s Governor just signed House bill 56 into law.  This bill is worse than the Arizona and Georgia Bills.. It bans undocumented youth from all colleges and universities, requires all K-12 school children to prove immigration status, requires parents of children to sign an affidavit with school as to their own immigration status, and requires implementation of E-Verify across the state. Sign the petition asking the Obama administration to step in. http://action.dreamactivist.org/alabama/

Tell Gov Haley to Veto SB 20 Immediately

The South Carolina State Legislature voted in favor of SB20, an Arizona SB1070 copycat legislation that gives police the authority to check someone’s immigration status during something as simple as a traffic stop. Sign this petition to urge Governor Haley to veto SB20 immediately!  http://action.dreamactivist.org/southcarolina

 Tell NC Gov Perdue to Veto Bill 36

HB 36 has passed both houses of the state legislature. It would require employers to use the flawed E-Verify system to check the status of workers they hire. Sign petition urging the NC governor to veto this bill. http://www.change.org/petitions/oppose-mandatory-e-verify-in-north-carolina-hb-36#signatures

 Tell TX Lawmakers to say NO to SB 9 (AZ Copycat)

Sign the petition — Tell Texas lawmakers that no matter their party, Arizona-style legislation is anti-immigrant, anti-American, unconstitutional and bad for all Texans. http://www.change.org/petitions/tell-texas-lawmakers-to-say-no-to-arizona-style-racial-profiling#signatures

 Stop HB 87 in Georgia (AZ Copycat)

Georgia governor Nathan Deal signed one of the harshest immigration bills into law. HB 87, a copycat of Arizona’s immigration law, allows undocumented workers to be charged with felonies and carries the punishment of up to 15 years in prison. Georgia citizens who commit traffic violations with an undocumented worker in the vehicle can also be faced with up to a year in prison and $1,000 in fines. http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/478/643/594/

 Tell CT Gov. Malloy to Pull out of Secure Communities

Governor Malloy exhibited true leadership in calling for deferred deportation for local DREAMer Mariano Cardosso.  He was also a supporter of CTs own DREAM legislation.  He should follow that up by standing up for the thousands of families affected by this program. Both the State of Illinois and the State of New York have pulled out of this program.  Connecticut should follow suit. Help us in asking Governor Malloy to pull out of the Secure Communities Program — sign the petition! http://www.change.org/petitions/governor-malloy-pull-out-of-the-secure-communities-program

 Gov. Brown: Take California out of the S-Comm Program

Sign the petition to join California Representatives in calling on California governor, Jerry Brown, to take California out of S-Comm immediately. http://www.change.org/petitions/gov-brown-take-california-out-of-the-s-comm-program-no-more-arizonas

 

In State Tuition

Remove Repeal of In State Tuition in WI

Scott Walker is at it again! Through his proposed 2011-2013 budget, the Governor aims to take away in-state tuition for countless of innocent undocumented students in Wisconsin who simply want to further their education. Education is a fundamental right in the lives of all people and, as such, should be attainable and affordable. http://wfc2.wiredforchange.com/o/8496/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=401

Tell Obama to Stop Deporting DREAMers!

 http://act.presente.org/sign/executive_action/?akid=369.125387.12weU5&rd=1&t=2

http://action.dreamactivist.org/obamalies/

http://wfc2.wiredforchange.com/o/8496/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=365

http://wfc2.wiredforchange.com/o/8496/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=469

 

Pass the DREAM Act now!

http://wfc2.wiredforchange.com/o/8496/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=464

*Disclaimer: online petition signing is not a substitute for on the ground activism. Consult your local immigrant rights organizations for next steps

 

 

My DREAM Story

My name is Carolina Bortolleto and I’m undocumented, unafraid, and American – a powerful statement, but how did I get to this point?

I moved to the US with my parents from Brazil when I was 9 years old in 1998. We came on a tourist visa and just overstayed.  We flew in to New York on a cold January night (I still remember the first time I breathed the cold air outside – “it tickles my lungs!” I exclaimed), played tourist in Manhattan for a couple weeks and then moved to Connecticut. Many immigrants start off their story with a search for a better life and economic opportunities. Sometimes I’m unsure how to begin my story. Truth is, we moved here because my mom loves the US and wanted to live here; she was tired of Brazil.

Thinking back to those early days here, I recall a strange mix of cheerfulness as I experienced new things and an overwhelming feeling of emptiness- unconsciously morning what I had lost. Slowly we build a life here and although my family has tried to adjust our status countless times, with several lawyers and thousands of dollars, it never works.

I have always known that I’m undocumented, but I didn’t see myself as different from the rest of my classmates. Soon, the reality of my status began to put up barriers. My 16th birthday came and went with no mention of a license or even driving (In fact, I still don’t drive). I began to realize that many other American milestones were beyond my reach, that because of my status, my life would be limited. Soon I would feel my status begin to gnaw away at my self worth and independence.  

I knew that because of my status, I was not eligible for financial aid and in state tuition. But this didn’t stop me from excelling in high school and I ended up graduating in the top 5% of my class.  I still went through the motions of a “normal” student – SATs, community service, extracurricular activities, college fairs, etc. I watched friends get acceptance letters and their excitement as they looked to the future. I applied to a bunch of colleges, just to see if I would get accepted, knowing full well that there was no way I could afford them.  And so I took my college acceptance letters and kept them as mementos of a high school career well done.

I thought it was unfair, why was I being punished for something that I didn’t do? Why couldn’t I have a life like everyone else? But then, my hard work did pay off, I got a merit scholarship from Western Connecticut State University that covered the in-state tuition, although I still had to pay the out of state.

The reality of my status temporarily averted, I threw myself in my studies. By filling all my time with challenging courses, I was avoiding facing the reality of my situation, that upon graduation, I would be stuck. But for the moment, I was busy being a college student. Though I tried not to think about my status, it impacted everything I did: when I had to turn down internships because of no work authorization, when my mom didn’t want to drive me to school because her license expired, when my professors asked me my plans for after graduation and I had no answer.

Being undocumented, you feel like you never really grow up, you can’t get a real job, you can’t drive, you can’t be independent, there’s always something holding you back from the life you believe should be yours. Even as I began college, I resented my situation. But my outlook would quickly improve.

 I found out about the DREAM Act right after I started college in 2006. As soon as I did I went online. There I discovered a vibrant community of DREAMers talking about their situation and their activism in discussion boards. Slowly I started to become more involved and plugging in online. Through facebook, I found out about events in other states and started going.  I heard stories of bright, motivated students who have been unable to pursue their dreams and go to college. Students more qualified than me (valedictorians!) who were working minimum wage jobs or were part time community college students. I was so lucky; I was able to go to a 4-year university full time. I felt a responsibility to speak out for others in this situation, to be their voice when they couldn’t. For me, it’s about fairness. It’s not fair that I got to go to college and others don’t. Why should I be lucky enough and not others? I’m no better than anyone else. We all deserve the same opportunities in life. The dream movement is about more than immigration, it’s about education and social justice.

As I became involved, I felt a sense of empowerment and community. I had found somewhere to belong. After a lifetime of feeling like I had no voice, like I was always dependent on others, like I was an incomplete person, I had found an identity, fulfillment, something greater than myself – I was a DREAMer, I had a purpose, I was empowered . I wanted other undocumented students in CT to feel this sense of empowerment and community.  I decided that I would become more involved in this movement and do what I could to start a group in CT.  Not knowing any other DREAMers in the state, the need to become more involved often kept me up at night. But slowly I connected with other interested students, and we formed our group, CT Students for a DREAM. I feel so privileged to witness and take part in this movement – I can’t imagine what my life would be without it.

The DREAM Act in Connecticut

When you think of the frontlines of the immigration battle, Connecticut doesn’t immediately pop in your mind. Around the country, many have this perception of Connecticut as all country clubbers in J. Crew outfits. And while we may have our share of privilege, this picture is far from the truth about the Nutmeg state. Connecticut is a very diverse state with a large growing immigrant population. I can personally attest to this; my old high school proudly proclaimed that its student body spoke over 50 languages at home. Walk down Main Street in my town and you’ll come across a Brazilian bakery, store, or travel agency every few storefronts.

At times, my town has been on the forefront of the immigration debate – from a heated battle about 287 (g), to a well-publicized national debate on whether our mayors’ attempt to regulate outdoor volleyball games (popular with the Hispanic population) was unfairly targeting undocumented.

But that was back in 2006, and things have calmed down since then. In fact, our politicians have been very supportive of the federal DREAM Act.  In December, both our Senators (Dodd and Lieberman) and our five representatives all voted in favor of the DREAM Act. A few weeks ago, our Senators Lieberman and Blumenthal were both co-sponsors when the DREAM Act was reintroduced. Therefore, our goal in CT has been not to move legislative targets, but to change and mold public opinion. This was our goal when our newly formed group, CT Students for a DREAM, organized CT’s first “coming out” event last December.

A more pressing concern for the DREAM movement in Connecticut has been the CT In State Tuition Bill for Undocumented Students (Bill 6390). The “Connecticut Dream Act” would allow undocumented students to pay In State Tuition in our public colleges if they have lived in CT for 4 years, graduated from a CT high school, and file an affidavit with their college stating their intent to legalize their status. This Bill passed the State House and Senate in 2007 but was vetoed by our then governor. The Bill was introduced again this year and passed a vote by the House a couple of weeks ago. Then, just this past Tuesday, May 24th, after 9 hours of debate (mostly republican amendments in a filibuster attempt), the voting in the Senate began.

A big story in the In State Tuition battle has been the role of us CT Dreamers. When the Bill had a public hearing in the Higher Education Committee back in March, 9 undocumented youth testified in person; this was a big change from the last time the Bill came up in ‘07, when one undocumented student submitted testimony.  Several legislators said that the powerful presence and testimony of the DREAMers really made the difference.

For the past month, our group has been collecting our personal stories and putting together a packet with each Dreamers’ story and photo. A couple of weeks ago during the House vote, my sister, Camila, and I made our way to the Capitol, where we met with several representatives, and gave them the packet of stories.

The Senate vote this week was last minute. We heard about it before 7am and started scrambling to have our little group of CT Dreamers go to the Capital. By early afternoon, 7 of us had made our way to the Capital. Looking around me that day and seeing 7 undocumented youth from CT joking around with each other, giving interviews to the press, and talking with legislators truly filled me with a sense of pride and accomplishment. 

CT Dreamers at the Capitol during the Senate debate on In State Tuition Bill
 

We stayed there for 8 hours – thought all the grueling, never ending GOP amendments. Watching the debate, it was clear that not all of the Senators were as informed about the issue as they should have been.  Some republicans made the argument that these students should become citizens before they can get the “In State Benefits”, as if the reason we are not citizens is for lack of want, not lack of possibility. My own Senator McLachlan was stuck on the issue of fairness; that it will be unfair if an American is denied a spot at a university at the expense of an undocumented student.

But these arguments didn’t hold up. Ultimately, with the full support of the democrats, the Bill passed the Senate by a vote of 21-14 as we all cheered and hugged in the chamber gallery. Several of the democrats even personally mentioned some CT DREAMers as they talked up the merits of the legislation. The Bill will now go to the Governor, who will surely sign it, and Connecticut will become the 12th state to have In State Tuition.

Celebrating with Sen Bye and Sen Prague after In State passes Senate

 

Hello world!

This past Sunday, I stepped up in front of over 50 people I had never met at a church social hour – I stepped up, without any notes, and began to tell my story, my story about being undocumented, about moving to Connecticut from Brazil when I was 9 years old, about graduating from college and why the CT In State Tuition Bill is important. I wasn’t nervous, even with nothing prepared beforehand.  I have come very far from the girl whose voice used to shake when she had to give a presentation in front of her class, from the girl whose entire middle school history class burst into laughter after the teacher told her to start her presentation on Belgium again, but this time to speak in her loudest possible voice, and still the back of the class couldn’t hear.

 I have always been a very quiet person, not the kind of person who speaks up or speaks out. In middle school, my twin sister and I were voted “most quiet” – not a distinction that looks good on your college applications. Maybe this quality comes from having a twin sister – when you have a twin, you don’t need to make friends, someone is always by your side.

It’s fair to say that my high school and college classmates and teachers were surprised to see my sister and me on the front page of our local town newspaper at the end of last year, proclaiming our undocumented status and why the dream act is important. Not only because of our shy personality, but because no one would ever suspect that we were undocumented.

Back in high school, I didn’t identify myself as an undocumented student or a DREAMer (having graduated in 2006, I don’t think the term DREAMer was even in popular use back then). Although I have always known about my status, until last fall only a few of my friends knew the truth. Not because I was embarrassed or afraid, it just didn’t seem to define me. I was a twin, a science nerd who loved art classes, an honors student who was very competitive with her grades, I marched with the color guard, and, oh yeah, I had a pet duck (Quaky).

 I knew that my status meant I would face obstacles, but I thought of myself as the same as the rest of my classmates.  But despite living here for most of my life, I was denied opportunities my classmates took for granted. I watched as they got their driver licenses and were finally “free”, but I stayed behind. Like my classmates, I began applying to college. But unlike them, I applied to top colleges just to see if I would get accepted, knowing full well that there was no way I could finance a $40,000 a year education.  Luckily, I was able to get a full merit scholarship from a local state school, Western Connecticut State University, although it only covered the instate tuition and I still had to pay the out of the state tuition. And so I graduated from High School in 2006 in the top 5% of my class with my immediate future all figured out.

The reality of my status averted for the moment, I threw myself in my studies, filling up my college schedule as much as I could with challenging courses and working very hard to get straight A’s, a B+ was unacceptable. By filling all my time with coursework, I was avoiding facing the reality of my situation, that upon graduation, I would once again be stuck, a victim of my status. But it was more than that; I was an undocumented student who went to college full time with a scholarship and didn’t need to have a job, I felt lucky and also guilty – I had no excuse to not have perfect grades.

It was right after I started college that I found out about the DREAM Act. As soon as I did, I went online and there I found this community of undocumented students in discussion boards and facebook. It might seem silly, but I was amazed when I began to read these students’ stories. I couldn’t believe it, they were just like me: they couldn’t drive, get a job, and they were frustrated that after working so hard in high school, they were not where they wanted to be after graduation. As I read the words on the screen, I felt this connection and sense of community.  Although I didn’t know who was writing, where they were from or what they looked like, I knew they were out there. You see, prior to going on such websites, I didn’t know another undocumented student (aside from my sister). In fact, it was only last year, as a 21 year old, that I actually met another undocumented student in person.

And now, a big part of who I am is a DREAMer and I’m proud of it. But I’m more than that (we all are), I’m a college graduate, having graduated from WCSU last year with a B.A. in Biology and minors in International Studies and Anthropology. At this point, I’m also lost and confused; I don’t know where my future is going or what I’ll be doing in 5 years, hell, even 5 months.

But, this does not mean that I’m aimless, now that I’m involved in the DREAM movement, I want to empower other undocumented youth in Connecticut. And that is my main aspiration for the re-introduction of the DREAM Act. It is unlikely that the DREAM Act will pass this year (but you never know, stranger things have happened), but my hope is that this re-introduction will motivate other undocumented students to step out of the shadows and get involved in the DREAM movement. By doing so, these youth will not only empower themselves, but will also become part of a larger community. I started out this post by mentioning my progression, from being someone who doesn’t speak out of turn, to being someone who stands in front of a packed room and speaks without anxiety and with the intention of rocking the boat.  There is nothing more empowering than when the disenfranchised find their voice. Through being involved in this movement, I have found mine and I want others to find theirs.

I’m writing this post as my first assignment as a one of the DreamActivist.org new media interns (honestly, a dream come true). Hopefully I can take the skills that I learn back to my group (CT Students for a DREAM), and help our group become a more organized and efficient group. I also hope to become more involved in what is currently going on in the DREAM movement. My ultimate hope is to begin to build an online presence, and to help other undocumented students feel they are not alone or lost, like so many other online Dream activists did for me.

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