“Terrorism, crime, the economy, health care, and education: we are not to blame for all of the world’s problems! Yet, despite being treated as less than human, we still want to help solve them. All we want, is the freedom to do so.”
These are the DREAMers, a nickname for the possible beneficiaries of the DREAM Act. But the term DREAMer has come to mean so much more than that. They truly do live their life off of the dream that they will one day be able to contribute to a country that refuses to acknowledge their existence, with some even actively crushing it out. If I were in their position I would have given up long ago. I probably would have drawn inspiration from Marcus Garvey and his “Back to Africa” movement, and left. Instead they stay in the only home they know with the dream that one day, their government will acknowledge their humanity.
The story behind ADD begins with an upsurge in pro-migrant blogs with satirical titles like Open Borders Lobby, Damn Mexicans, and Illegal is Illegal. I got in touch with fash, who is in the featured ADD Youtube Video, and she explained to me that these blogs were being written by DREAMers, organizing themselves through the DREAM Act Portal. They were taking their stories outside of a maze of forums and into light through blogging.
I’m fortunate that a lot of the national leaders of the pro-migrant movement in the U.S. now read Citizen Orange and consider it a respected voice for change. Soon after announcing the presence of these online DREAMers, I was contacted by Robert Greenwald of Brave New Films about possibly having them run a blog to compliment a series of videos on migrants that they were looking produce. Months later, A Dream Deferred was launched a long with a video about the DREAM Act and a petition imploring the next U.S. President to pass the federal DREAM Act with 100 days. Sign the petition if you haven’t done so already.
I didn’t do much. Fash really did all the work of getting the DREAMers together and the talented people at Brave New Films used their skills to give them a megaphone. I was just the connector, but I’m still very humbled and grateful to have received an acknowledgment by name at the bottom of the blog.
I was only hoping to get the MIRA name out there in hopes of furthering the organization’s new media work. To have been mentioned by name there really caught me by surprise.
The day ADD launched was a really happy day for me. It represented undocumented migrants standing up and saying “we can control the medium”. But there are a lot of challenges ahead. Duke in his masterful fashion gives an overview of the situation, but it goes beyond that.
When Brave New Films launched it’s campaign to stop the spread of the fox news virus, it collected 200,000 signatures. We’ve only collected under 8,000 for the DREAM Act. When A Dream Deferred was trumpeted throughout the “progressive” blogosphere, anti-migrant sentiment quickly reared it’s ugly head in traditionally progressive forums like alternet, mother jones, and daily kos.
It is also going to be a challenge for the DREAMers at ADD. They have a heavy weight on their shoulders. Including the daily burden of living as aliens in their own home they have to sit at their computers every night and speak not only for themselves, but all migrants. They have to speak not only for the one migrant that makes it to the U.S. but the nine that don’t and are left behind to rely on the few that do. Just look at the misconceptions DREAM Activist had to confront when the issue of sexuality was brought up along with migrant status. We’ve got a long way to go.
But there is one story that always makes me feel better when it seems like the fight for migrant emancipation is becoming overwhelming. It is a story from a town in Mexico that goes by the name of La Patrona. It was in La Patrona that someone I have only been able to identify as Mrs. Sanchez decided one day that she was going to give food and water to starving and dehydrated migrants as they hung on for their lives on the trains that passed by her house.
Mrs. Sanchez didn’t do it to make a political statement. She didn’t do it because her church told her too. Her husband had no say in the decision because he was out in the field’s working. Mrs. Sanchez did it because it was the right thing to do. The only thing these migrants were doing was seeking a better life and Mrs. Sanchez knew that it could have very easily been herself or someone she knew having to take that trip.
It wasn’t long before other members of the community starting joining in. These aren’t rich people. By most U.S. citizen standards in fact, they’re extremely poor. They give what they can though it usually isn’t enough. Before long, whispers of La Patrona were communicated by migrant beneficiaries. The town started taking on a certain legendary quality to it as one of the only bright spots in the hell that it is to traverse Mexico. The Ladies of La Patrona even took their help further.
They tell stories of taking migrants who lost their limbs on the train to the hospital, claiming them as family members to prevent them from being deported and to ensure their treatment and survival. One day police even showed up to arrest migrants on the train and the Ladies of La Patrona banded together and stopped them. The Ladies of La Patrona were given international fame after Tin Dardamal did a segment on them in his film, De Nadie, and now the ladies are changing the minds of even the most ardent anti-migrant advocates.
All it took, was one person doing what she thought was right. We have a long way to go, but more and more people are doing the right thing. The spark is catching and soon we’ll have a wildfire on our hands.