The “DREAM Now Series: Letters to Barack Obama” is a social media campaign that launched Monday, July 19, to underscore the urgent need to pass the DREAM Act. The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, S. 729, would help tens of thousands of young people, American in all but paperwork, to earn legal status, provided they graduate from U.S. high schools, have good moral character, and complete either two years of college or military service. With broader comprehensive immigration reform stuck in partisan gridlock, the time is now for the White House and Congress to step up and pass the DREAM Act!
President Barack H. Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President,
My name is Wendy and I am a daughter, a friend, a student, and, most importantly, a dreamer. I came to this country in 1999 from Peru when I was seven years old, accompanied by my mother, father, and sister. Getting on the plane, I did not know that words like “undocumented” and “dreams” would play such a major role in my young adult life. Growing up in New York, I began to embrace the United States and the feeling of being an American; I learned to balance this country’s traditions with my own without difficulty. I came to notice that the people around me, regardless of their different ethnic backgrounds and customs, were not so different from me after all.
As early as elementary school, I worked hard to get good grades, going from ESL in second grade to straight A’s by third grade. I graduated the sixth grade with a great reputation amongst my peers and teachers; the logical thing to do at that point was reach for the same level of success in high school. Upon entering high school, I was sure that I would flourish both socially and academically–with nothing to get in the way of me and my aspirations. I thought high school would be yet another chapter in my life that would be full of ease and more opportunities to make my parents proud. Academically, I was able to flourish. I was in advanced classes as a freshman and sophomore, which made it possible for me to take Advanced Placement College level courses in my junior and senior years. I became involved in various extracurricular activities, and tried my best to hold office or be as much of an active member in everything that I joined. Being a member of clubs such as Students Against Destructive Decisions (S.A.D.D.) and the Foreign Language Honor Society allowed me to do two things that are very important to me: reach out to the youth in my community by teaching them about healthy decision making, as well as advocating unity amongst all individuals regardless of their backgrounds.
With all of that said, it was shattering to me when the burdens of my situation began to reveal themselves. With high school came a serious reality check. There were several setbacks I began to come across, all dealing with my future. Up to the age of 16, the effects of my legal status were just an impending nightmare that seemed very far away. While my closest friends threw lavish sweet sixteen parties, purchased their first cars, found steady jobs, and began to look into colleges, I found myself making more and more excuses for my lack of participation in these American ‘rights of passage.’ The frustration built up until my senior year in high school. The counselors at school could provide me with little to no information about my ‘undocumented’ dilemma and what I was to do about college. It was devastating to see so many doors being shut in my face so close to the end. My visions of going to a prestigious private university and getting awarded scholarships for my high grades quickly disintegrated. For the first time, I began to feel alone; I also felt very confused–how was it that innocent youth were being denied one of the most basic human rights? the right to be educated. There was nothing left for me to do but to condense my high expectations to accommodate my family’s financial possibilities, as the scholarship money I received was not enough to cover the full tuition of the schools to which I had applied. Without financial aid not much is possible. After several sleepless nights and stressful days, I came to the conclusion that something needed to be done.
I have enrolled in an honors program at a community college and will start attending this fall, working towards getting my associates degree in Liberal Arts. Although I am privileged enough to be able to continue my education beyond high school, I cannot say things have gone they way I’d expected. After I graduate from community college I would love to continue my education at Binghamton University–whose acceptance I had to respectfully decline–or Fordham University at the Lincoln Center campus. I know it was not my grades that prevented me from applying to the best universities, as I graduated with a 4.0 GPA and ranked 12 in my class–it was the lack of those nine digits. What’s worse is I did not willingly get myself into this situation; my parents, who had nothing but the best intentions for me and my sister, made the choice because they envisioned us achieving the American Dream. I want to make their visions a reality.
The DREAM Act would allow me and thousands of undocumented youth to give back to society. All I want is a great education so that I can grow up to become a professional. I want to make an honest living in this country. I want to stay here. This is my home now. I have marched in Washington D.C. and I have joined the fight for the DREAM! I no longer want to live my life in the shadows, constantly afraid of what could happen. I have learned to accept the fact that I am undocumented, and I’m finally unafraid. I have done nothing wrong and only wish to have the same opportunities as all of my peers. Please Mr. President, you have the power to make my dreams a reality; DREAM ACT 2010!
The “DREAM Now” letter series is inspired by a similar campaign started by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network for the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Every Monday and Wednesday DREAM-eligible youth will publish letters to the President, and each Friday there will be a DREAM wrap-up. If you’re interested in getting involved or posting these stories on your site, please email Kyle de Beausset at kyle at citizenorange dot com.
Approximately 65,000 undocumented youth graduate from U.S. high schools every year, who could benefit from passage of the DREAM Act. Many undocumented youth are brought to the United States before they can even remember much else, and some don’t even realize their undocumented status until they have to get a driver’s license, want to join the military, or apply to college. DREAM Act youth are American in every sense of the word — except on paper. It’s been nearly a decade since the DREAM Act was first introduced. If Congress does not act now, another generation of promising young graduates will be relegated to the shadows and blocked from giving back fully to our great nation.
This is what you can do right now to pass the DREAM Act:
- Sign the DREAM Act Petition
- Join the DREAM Act Facebook Cause
- Send a fax in support of the DREAM Act
- Call your Senator and ask them to pass the DREAM Act now.
- Email kyle at citizenorange dot com to get more involved
Below is a list of previous entries in the DREAM Now Series:
Mohammad Abdollahi (19 July 2010)
Yahaira Carrillo (21 July 2010)
Weekly Recap – Tell Harry Reid You Want the DREAM Act Now (23 July 2010)