More and more DREAMers - young undocumented immigrants who grew up in the United States - are publicly acknowledging their irregular status without fear of being deported and with the aim of bringing pressure to bear on politicians.
“It was in front of the White House, protesting about thousands of deportations of young people like me, that day I said to myself that I was going to go up to the podium and I was going to speak. I worked up my courage, I took the microphone and, for the first time, I said: ‘My name is Ricardo Campos, I’m a DREAMer and I’m not afraid,’” said one such young man.
They came to the United States as children, brought by their families, and the DREAMers have gone to school here, have worked and now they want the authorities to regularize their status and recognize their contribution.
In light of Congress’ failure to pass the DREAM Act, which would legalize many undocumented young people, the Obama administration on Aug. 15 implemented a temporary measure, Deferred Action, that allows DREAMers who qualify to postpone their deportation for two years and obtain a temporary work permit.
As journalist Jose Antonio Vargas said in June when he and dozens of other undocumented immigrants appeared on the cover of Time magazine, many of them have opted to “come out of the closet” and that has had an effect on political decision-making.
With that step, young undocumented immigrants are explaining to those around them why they cannot go have a beer after class - they don’t have an identity document that proves their age - and why they cannot take a graduation trip abroad.
Ricardo Campos, 23, recalls clearly the day he “came out” at the rally in front of the White House.
“When I went up on the stage, I carried tons of sadness and anxiety with me, but by speaking in public that weight disappeared,” he told Efe. “I found that one could fight and it was worth it to do so.”
Salvadoran-born Veronica Saravia, 17, says that she took the step five months ago when she began to collaborate with the civil rights organizations CASA of Maryland.
“They taught me that there’s nothing to be afraid of. I began to go to their marches. That showed me that we need to keep on fighting and that we can help a lot of people,” she told Efe.
Veronica was only 10 when she crossed the U.S.-Mexican border with the desire of seeing her parents again, whom she had not seen in five years.
“I remember the sadness and the tears. There were nights when I thought I’d never get to the United States. On the way, I heard stories about people they had killed, there was an emotional pain added to the physical (pain) of walking and not sleeping at night to prevent something from happening to me,” she said.
When she reached the border, she was arrested and, therefore, during her life in the United States she has been under a deportation order.
Thanks to Deferred Action, she said that she is no longer afraid, but she adds that “it’s a step forward achieved with struggle” and it is necessary “to keep fighting.”
“We have Deferred Action thanks to those young people who told their stories, who put their lives on the line and those four youths who walked to the capital in 2010 to say ‘enough’ to the deportation of students,” Campos said.