Migrant Youth: April 2010 Archives

TODNY in PA

In my inbox from the New York State Youth Leadership Council today:

Dear Friend,

The Trail of Dreams New York is well under way, with our four courageous marchers, Marisol, Gabriel, Jose Luis and Martin, having traveled 100 miles. Although their feet are blistered and their bodies are weary, their spirits are high due to the major gains that the Trail has achieved for the Dream Act.

Last Monday, after being invited to the Newark TODNY Press Conference, Senator Frank Lautenberg of NJ co-sponsored the Dream Act.

Also last Monday, after being asked to meet with TODNY, Representative Pascrell of NJ co-sponsored the Dream Act.

Last Tuesday, after meeting with TODNY, Representative Payne of NJ agreed to become a co-sponsor of the Dream Act. Also, Representative Hinchey of NY became a co-sponsor of the Dream Act.

Last Thursday, after being asked to meet with TODNY, Representative Brady of NJ co-sponsored the Dream Act.

Last Friday, after being asked to meet with TODNY, Representative Edwards of MD co-sponsored the Dream Act.

Today, TODNY will hold a press conference in Philadelphia. Senator Specter of PA will reaffirm his commitment to the Dream Act. Also in attendance will be a representative of Senator Casey of PA, who has not yet co-sponsored the Dream Act.

**Please sign the PA Dream Act petitions to urge Senator Casey and other PA legislators to support the Dream Act TODAY!**

The walkers have also touched hearts and minds as they tell their stories to people throughout New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. They have held events on college campuses and at community organizations, as well as spoken with people they met along their route.

THE TRAIL OF DREAMS IS WORKING, BUT THE MARCHERS NEED YOUR SUPPORT TO CONTINUE THEIR WALK AND MAKE IT SAFELY TO DC. If you have already contributed, we thank you and ask that you consider making an additional contribution. If you have been following the journey but have yet to contribute, now is the time.

Please make your contribution here

[snip]

Best,

the Youth Leadership Council


[Ed.: Read the bios of the TODNY walkers to be inspired.

See why they are walking and why my knee is still sore today.

Once again, Pennsylvania residents, please ask Senator Casey to cosponsor the DREAM Act.

Read about today's TODNY welcome event and press conference at the University of Pennsylvania. TODNY and DreamActivist PA led the local evening news on Univision! Watch this space for the YouTube as soon as I track it down.]

In case you missed it, the Associated Press recently covered our request for a meeting with Senator Scott Brown (R-Mass.).  We are asking Sen. Brown to meet with us before April 17.

Harvard College Act on a Dream has been trying to meet with Sen. Brown since he was first elected at the beginning of the semester.  We were told that his office was a mess the first couple of months, but we were finally asked to fax our meeting request to his office.  We sent the fax on March 5, 2010. 

After not getting a commitment to a meeting for over a month, we were forced to take our meeting request public.  We joined forces with the Student Immigrant Movement to set up an online petition which already has over 100 signatures (please sign it if you haven't done so, yet).  The online petition resulted in coverage from the AP, and now our request is all over the web.  We were happy to hear through the AP that his office has received our meeting request and will shortly ask for more information from us.

Still, it's going to take a lot more than an AP article and a hundred petition signatures to secure a meeting with Brown.  Here are some things you can do to help:

  1. SIGN the petition at change.org and ask all of your friends and family to do the same, especially if they are Massachusetts residents. 
  2. CALL Brown's D.C. office (202-224-4543) and his local office (617-565-3170) to ask whether or not Brown will meet with us before April 17.
  3. JOIN the Facebook group and ask your Facebook friends to do the same
  4. HELP us fight any misinformation or nativism that you see online regarding our meeting request.   



It's taken me much too long to do this.  Better late than never. 

People have been asking me for these stories ever since our coming out event at Harvard on March 10, 2010.  Through Harvard College Act on a Dream, we were able to secure permission to publish three of the anonymous stories we read, publicly.  Here are the links to the stories I just published on Citizen Orange:

  1. Anonymous Undocumented Harvard Student #1
  2. Anonymous Undocumented Harvard Student #2
  3. Anonymous Undocumented Harvard Student #3
To get a better sense of where these students are coming from, I recommend you read Elizabeth Pezza's excellent piece in the Harvard Crimson on living in the shadows at Harvard, which I reviewed here
This story was read on March 10, 2010, during our coming out event at Harvard.

Harvard, Class of 2009

Teachers, counselors, administrators, community members, and elected officials ... You, ALL OF YOU, LIED to me.
 
Every time you told me "hard work pays off," every time you said, "if you try your best, you can succeed," and every time you advised me, "believe in yourself and you can make all your dreams come true," you LIED to me.
This story was read on March 10, 2010, during our coming out event at Harvard.

Harvard, Class of 2009

Every great story begins with something about the self-evident human right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I hope that one day my story will too, begin this way.

For now, all I have is a story about perseverance in the face of adversity; about patience through insurmountable frustrations; about a life full of hope, and about the dreams that someday will not only have to be just dreams.
This story was read on March 10, 2010, during our coming out event at Harvard

Harvard, Class of 2010

My parents met in the local pharmacy of a small town in El Salvador.  Four years later, I was born.  At the time, my older brother was a toddler.  It was also the same time that my father began his journey to the north - out of necessity - because he wanted a better life for out family. 

I don't remember seeing my dad more than a handful of times as I was growing up.  The cardboard silhouette of father and son I made in school for Fathers' Day always went undelivered. Despite this, there was always food on our table, payments for school, and toys on Christmas.
If you haven't read this article in the Harvard Crimson, yet, you should

When Elizabeth Pezza approached Harvard College Act on a Dream about writing a feature story on undocumented youth for the weekly Harvard Crimson magazine, Fifteen Minutes, my first reaction was that I hope it's better than the FM piece that was written about me:

"Altar, Mexico. That town is crazy," says Kyle De Beausset '08.

But De Beausset is not talking about the kind of Mexican crazy that happens when you mix margaritas in your mouth on the beach at 10 a.m.

Instead, he's referring to the last stop on his journey documenting the experience of South American migrant workers trying to make it to the United States.
Shifra Mincer - Harvard Crimson (3 May 2006)
For those that didn't catch it, Guatemala is not in South America.  I've actually never been to South America, I'm sorry to say, even though I was just a few months shy of being born in Ecuador.

It's not just inaccuracies I was worried about, though.  FM often tries to put a sort of "fun" tone into articles that I just didn't see working well with undocumented students at Harvard.  After multiple assurances from Pezza that she wouldn't use that tone, as well as the assurances of trusted pro-migrant students who knew her, I had faith that she would do a good job.