David Bennion: March 2011 Archives

DREAMActivist Pennsylvania held a rally on Saturday in Philadelphia at which six undocumented Pennsylvanians came out of the shadows, disclosing their immigration status publicly to the supporters and reporters in attendance. The Dreamers spoke, some through tears, of the anger and frustration they feel about their situation: of not being able to drive, travel, or vote. Of living in fear of deportation and permanent separation from their loved ones.

But each speaker also sounded a note of hope, and some were openly defiant. The theme of the rally was "undocumented, unafraid, and unapologetic." That defiance was expressed through action when the speakers led supporters from the rally site in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia to the ICE Investigations Office located a few blocks away. An ICE suburban was parked in front, a visible symbol of the detention and deportation regime that targets Dreamers and their families. Several anxious uniformed officers guarded the building, which was closed for the weekend, as though the marchers were going to storm and ransack it. ICE is not used to being challenged by its prey.

In front of the ICE office, Dreamers and allies deposited diplomas into a coffin marked "Broken Dreams" to symbolize the death of their dreams under the current oppressive immigration legal system. They chanted and yelled and sang. The mood was one of exuberance. The speakers who had shed tears earlier were smiling now. ICE was present, but did nothing. The nativists who clog comments sections of articles about immigration were entirely absent. The politicians who claim to support immigrant communities were nowhere to be seen.

Though the DREAM Act was voted down last year, Dreamers haven't gone anywhere, they are here and stronger than ever. Local Spanish-language media was at Saturday's rally in force; the journalists at Univision and Al Dia have grasped the civil rights messaging at the heart of the DREAM Act movement and are broadcasting it to their audiences. Leaders who ignore or diminish Dreamers do so at their political peril.

[Video: Raul Romero/seesawfilms]