On March 10, starting at the Golden Gate Bridge, a group of enthusiastic immigrant rights activists began a 3,000 mile walk across the nation to promote the Dream Act and immigration reform. These activists hope to create a dialogue about the plight of undocumented youth in small towns and big cities along their route. These walkers are sponsored by the group Campaign for an American Dream and they hope to arrive at Washington D.C. with renewed support for the passage of the Dream Act.
The Dream Act was first introduced in the Senate on August 1, 2001 by Senators Dick Durbin and Orrin Hatch and it would provide a means for undocumented children of illegal immigrants an opportunity to become citizens if they pass certain requirements. Those eligible must have come to this country before they were 15 years old, they must have good character (meaning they do not have a criminal record), they must have graduated from a U.S. high school or received a GED , and they must have lived in the country continuously for at least five years prior to the bill’s enactment. These young adults must complete either two years in the military or two years at a four-year institution of higher learning to obtain a temporary residency for a six-year period. Within the six-year period, they may become a permanent resident if they acquire a degree from an institution of higher education in the United States or has completed at least 2 years in a program for a bachelor’s degree or higher degree in the United States or have served in the armed services for at least 2 years and, if discharged, has received an honorable discharge. Throughout the years, Democratic Senator Dick Durbin has remained a consistent advocate for the Dream Act. Here is a youtube video of Senator Dick Durbin advocating the Dream Act.
The people who will walk for the Dream Act are Alex Aldana, Lucas da Silva, Jose Gonzalez, Nico Gonzalez, Raymi Gutierrez, and Jonatan Martinez. You can connect to their individual Facebook pages, read their blogs as they do through their walk across the country, or read their newsletter that is found in the Campaign For An American Dream website. Jonatan Martinez wrote a good summary as to why he is walking across the country to talk to people for support of the Dream Act:
I will walk for all of the DREAMers who are in the same position as me. I will walk for people who have hope to earn a degree but are not given the opportunity to put their talents to use. I will walk for a change in our immigration system and a halt in the separation of families. I will walk for every person who feels they do not have a voice in their own country. I will walk for those who feel that their dreams are crumbled and useless due to a broken immigration system. I will walk for those who are raised in America and even without a legal status; they still stand proud to call themselves Americans. For a fellow American I will walk as far as it takes. I will keep walking and never settle for less than equality. I will put one foot in front of the other and not lay rest, because I walk for the American dream and the American dream is you.
Here is a link to the U.S. Senate’s contact information and the directory of the U.S. House of Representatives so that you can contact your Senator and Representative and let them know that you support the Dream Act.
Here are some organizations who are involved in the immigration debate
Dream Activist: Undocumented Students Action and Resource Network
National Council of La Raza
Frontera de Cristo
Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc.
Interfaith Immigration Coalition
Arizona Coalition for Migrant Rights
Border Action Network
Asian Law Caucus
Asian Pacific Americans For Progress
Immigrant Legal Resource Center
Pilipino Workers Center of Southern California
Youtube videos of the Campaign for the American Dream Walk in March 10, 2012
A youtube video of Nico Gonzalez, one of the Dream Walkers
A youtube video of Jose Gonzalez, a Dream Walker
A youtube video of Irvin Camacho showing support for the Campaign for an American DREAM, the DREAM Act, and undocumented immigrants.
A youtube video of Deyvid Morales telling why he supports the Dream Act
A youtube video of Gabriela Mejia supporting the Dream Walk
A youtube video of Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) chairing the first-ever Senate hearing on the DREAM Act before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security