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Dreamers fight to win, 10 year struggle moves towards victory

By Jared Hamil

Protesters march in front of Democratic Party Campaign Office, Tampa, FL.

Tampa, FL- About 30 people protested outside of the Democratic Party campaign office on June 13. They were there to say no to President Obama's massive deportations of undocumented people and to demand the passage of the Dream Act. The protesters consisted mostly of undocumented youth and allies from around the Tampa area. In almost 100 degree Florida weather, the protesters rallied for two hours waiting to hear from someone inside. While they rallied, many speakers came forward to talk about a range of issues affecting undocumented people throughout the U.S.

Groups there included United We Dream, Students Working for Equal Rights (SWER), Student/Farmworker Alliance and Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). They were all there together to fight for legalization and the right for people to an education. The Dream Act, as many people talked about, provides partial legalization for young undocumented people who have graduated high school and want to enroll in higher education. All of the Dreamers in Tampa spoke of how they wanted to further their education without fear of deportation. They talked about living in constant fear and oppression at the hands of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and the police.

The crowd marched in circles in front of the office chanting, “Hey Obama! Don't deport my Mama!” “Money for jobs and education, not for racist deportation!” and “El pueblo vive, la lucha sigue!” Meanwhile speakers from different groups came up to talk about their demands. Marisol Marquez of SWER spoke, “Though we may disagree with some things of the Dream Act, like requiring black and brown people to fight overseas in wars of oppression, this still is a pathway to citizenship. We say stop the deportations and let young people have the right to an education!” Speakers continued to come up while the group marched and chanted in front of the office. As the protest came to a close, the group posted a letter to the door of the office with a list of demands.

This protest was part of a nationwide day of action in support of the people's rights to citizenship, employment and education. Across the U.S. groups came together to tell President Obama to stop the deportations and to demand a better future for undocumented people. Under the Obama administration the U.S. has seen more than a million deportations. Many of the Dream Act supporters tell the stories of families broken apart by ICE and the constant deportations. On top of this, the past four years has seen an increase in ICE's budget. This has led to the record number of arrests and deportations over the past few years.

The Dream Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors), first introduced in 2001, provides a pathway to legalized citizenship for young undocumented people. However, Democrats and Republicans have both refused to pass the act during the Bush and Obama administrations. Since 2001 undocumented youth have taken to the streets with increased militancy demanding the right to be in the U.S. These brave people risk it all to fight for a better future.

On June 14, the years and dedication to the fight came to the fore. President Obama announced that he would be enacting a Dream Act-like measure that essentially would have the same benefits of the Dream Act. Over the years, the Dreamers endured a life of struggle, dedication and risk of deportation. Without the dedication to the fight, this victory would not have been won. Though this is a small victory for undocumented people and a blow the institutional racism aimed against Black and brown people in the U.S., it still proves that through action and struggle, people can win.

The Dreamers will not stop now. Though most of their demands have been met, they will not stop until the deportations stop. It is not just about demanding a pathway to citizenship or a right to education. The Dreamers, like everyone else, demand that the racist discrimination instituted by the U.S. government stop. Whether it's the deportation of undocumented youth, Trayvon Martin and the police murders of other African-American youth, the Islamophobia and racial profiling of Muslim people, or the systematic arrests and lockups of all people of color – the fight is the same. Only through continuous action will they be resolved, and the Dreamers vow to continue. The struggle moves forward.

Undocumented Students protest in fear of ICE and police deportation.

Dreamers gather to protest deportations and demand a right to an education.

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