Nominate A Dreamer for the Presidential Citizens Medal
The 2011 Citizens Medal will recognize U.S. citizens who have performed exemplary deeds of service outside of their regular jobs, including individuals who meet the criteria listed at the bottom of this post. Nominations must be received by Monday, May 30, 2011 at 11:59 p.m. EST.
I nominated Mohammad Abdollahi, co-founder of Dreamactivist.org and DreamIsComing and undocumented activist. Here is the application I submitted tonight:
Explain why your nominee should receive the Citizens Medal based on the criteria outlined here:
Mo has a demonstrated commitment to service in his community. He co-founded Dreamactivist.org and has helped stop the deportations of dozens of other undocumented Americans through peaceful organizing.
Mo helped his country through extraordinary acts. He helped organize and was one of the participants in the first civil disobedience action carried out by undocumented activists in the United States who had no previous contact with immigration enforcement, at Senator McCain's Tucson office in May 2010. He then continued to organize further actions, along with other committed undocumented and citizen activists, to motivate elected officials to move the DREAM Act forward in 2010.
Mo's service relates to a long-term or persistent problem. The current immigration laws penalize those brought here as children, Americans in all but name, and mandate their exile. Elected officials have not found the courage to address this problem, so undocumented youth like Mo have taken responsibility for their own futures.
Mo's service has had a sustained impact on others' lives and provided inspiration for others to serve. Since the May 2010 action, dozens of undocumented youth have bravely put their freedom and lives in this country at risk by committing additional acts of peaceful civil disobedience. Thanks to Mo's efforts and those of other leaders of the undocumented youth movement, many people have found the courage to stand up for their rights.
Describe the impact that your nominee's service has had on individuals and/or communities:
Due in part to the advocacy efforts of DreamIsComing, of which Mo is a founding member, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid moved the DREAM Act out of committee and onto the Senate floor late last year. Senator Reid brought the DREAM Act up for a vote as a standalone bill, where it fell five votes short of passage in the Senate. This legislative effort brought direction and coherence to the undocumented youth movement, which continues to grow in size and influence. The DREAM Act was reintroduced this month in Congress, but more importantly, undocumented youth are finding their voice. They are working to make our society more fair and more free, and Mo's efforts and those of other undocumented youth leaders will benefit all of us.
However, selecting just one individual for this award does not accurately reflect the efforts of hundreds of dedicated activists, in collaboration or in separate acts of devotion, towards the goal of freedom for undocumented communities. Many in this movement merit this award, selecting one person is in some respects inherently arbitrary.
While the criteria for this award clearly state that a recipient must be a United States citizen, Mo is as American as any citizen, and deserves this award as much as any applicant. The fact that not only is he ineligible for this award, but could also be deported to Iran at any time, highlights the injustice and senselessness of our immigration laws.
Who have a demonstrated commitment to service in their own community or in communities farther from home. Someone who has engaged in activities that have had an impact in their local community, on a community or communities elsewhere in the United States or on fellow citizens living or stationed around the world.
Who have helped their country or their fellow citizens through one or more extraordinary acts. Individuals who have demonstrated notable skill and grace, selflessly placed themselves in harm's way, taken unusual risks or steps to protect others, made extraordinary efforts to further a national goal, or otherwise conducted themselves admirably when faced with unusually challenging circumstances.
Whose service relates to a long-term or persistent problem. Individuals who have made efforts to combat stubbornly persistent problems that impact entire communities, for example those who have taken innovative steps to address hunger, homelessness, the dropout crisis, lack of access to health care, and other issues that plague too many Americans.