Harvard President Drew Faust Should Support The DREAM Act
Today is May 1, 2009. Three years ago, on this day, I went to Georgetown University to speak before a group of students about my attempt to retrace the route of a Guatemalan migrant into the U.S. My feelings from three years ago are summed up pretty well in an op-ed I wrote for the Harvard Crimson at the time. The scene at Georgetown was described in Prensa Libre, Guatemala's main newspaper:
SolidarityThough I'm often humbled by migrant advocates that have been doing this work for decades, I can't help but feel that I've come a long way in three years. Today, it feels like I've come full circle.
Georgetown University's campus was converted into an improvised cemetery.
In a peculiar form of protest, dozens of crosses and a rose were displayed to symbolize the hundreds of immigrants that die upon crossing different sectors of the borders of Mexico and the United States.
There, Kyle de Beausset, a young U.S.-Guatemalan, showed his solidarity with his compatriots in a speech where he cited the singer-songwriter Ricardo Arjona to the sound of applause from the crowd.
"Today's protest is not about amnesty, nor is it about immigration reform. It is more than that. It is about restoring basic human rights and dignity."
Prensa Libre - Claudia Munaiz (2 May 2006) - Translated by Kyle de Beausset
Today, I can finally take my new media tools outside of my (still limited) organizer's toolbox. Though I confess I've been anxious for this day, I would not be using new media tools unless I was absolutely certain they would bring us closer to our goal. The process of organizing a community and coming up with a goal is a long one, which is shaped by many voices. I will not recount the entire process here. What I will say is that an entire school year worth of work has led to the birth of the Harvard Act on a Dream Movement.
The Harvard Act on a Dream Movement has many leaders. I cannot name all of them. Some are unauthorized migrants and others, in our haste to plan a rally tomorrow, I have not specifically asked about being included in this post. Hopefully, I will get them to write for Citizen Orange, soon, or even leave comments on this post. So if I can't tell you about the organizing process, or name the leaders of this movement, what can I tell you about? I can tell you what led us to hold a rally urging President Drew Faust to support the DREAM Act, tomorrow.
After much deliberation, the members of Harvard Act on a Dream determined that we could have the most impact on the U.S. migration debate by getting President Drew Faust to come out in support of the DREAM Act. Most of our local congressman in the Northeast are supportive of the DREAM Act and migration policy reform. Getting a national figure like Drew Faust to come out in support of the DREAM Act could really help tip the balance in the DREAM Act's favor. So on March 16, 2006, a group of us went to Drew Faust's office to ask her to come out publicly in support of the DREAM Act. Some students in our group were unauthorized and they told Drew Faust stories of what they have to go through as unauthorized Harvard students. Here's just one excerpt from an unauthorized youth's story that will be read today at the rally:
The fear of deportation was unreal to me until I came to Harvard. At home, I would hear news of people being deported and ripped away from their families, but I never thought that would happen to me. Now that I'm on my own and my parents are across the country, the thoughts of being deported feel real. As I jogged away from that dark car, I realized that the fear I felt was the fear that millions of people experience every day. Perhaps the men in the car stopped abruptly because they were lost. And maybe they looked at me because I was approaching their car. But one thing is certain: I live in fear.After unauthorized youth told Drew Faust what they have to go through at Harvard, unauthorized youth told Faust the best thing she could do for them is to come out publicly in support of the DREAM Act . She said she would get back to us. One week later, we received the same response from Faust that I got when I asked for a statement about the DREAM Act from a Harvard University Spokesperson:Unauthorized Harvard Student (1 May 2009)
Harvard supports the efforts of our national associations, such as the AAU and ACE, who have worked along with student organizations, in support of provisions in various versions of the DREAM Act of importance to higher education.The first time I read this statement I thought it was a positive thing. I read this to mean that Harvard supports the DREAM Act. However, calls to the American Association of Universities (AAU) and the American Council on Education (ACE) revealed a different story. The last action the AAU took in support of the DREAM Act was an ACE letter (pdf) they signed in support on October 23, 2007. Even worse, ACE couldn't even be bothered to answer my calls about the DREAM Act. I called them everyday for a week. From what I can tell, though, the letter was the last thing ACE did in support of the DREAM Act, too.Joe Wrinn - Harvard University Spokesperson (1 May 2009)
It soon became clear that Harvard was just hiding behind national organizations it was affiliated with to avoid taking a stand on the DREAM Act. Harvard is willing to admit unauthorized youth, but it is unwilling to take a stand on the only piece of legislation that has a chance at offering them freedom, equality, and the right to exist on the only country they know as their home. Since it was clear that Drew Faust wasn't going to listen to unauthorized youth alone, the next logical step was to try and appeal for support across the University, which has led us to the rally, today.
I've set up a petition through citizenspeak.org where people can send emails directly to President Faust. I've also written an op-ed in the Harvard Crimson laying out the reasoning behind why President Faust should support the DREAM Act. Hopefully the rally today will show President Faust just how much support on campus there is for our fellow students, some of whom just happen to be unauthorized.
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