Thirty people were already in line by the time members of the Arizona DREAM Act Coalition arrived.  It was 5:30pm and the lecture was set to begin at 7pm.  Nine hundred people had reserved their seats—an overflow room was already prepared.  We knew the importance of being there early and ready.

While waiting in line, our team was approached by three or four reporters including ASU State Press and Univision.  They wanted to know why we were there, what our message was.  Later that night Univision had us on the small screen—30 DREAMers at a lecture by Secretary Janet Napolitano on “Meeting New and Evolving Threats to Our National Security.”

Inside the hall, Secretary Napolitano focused on Aviation security and international efforts to secure our entry points.  That led to a discussion on immigration reform.  Secretary Napolitano made the following points.

1)  On CIR: “We’re going to keep pushing this until we get it over the finish line.”

2)  The Department of Home Land Security focuses on “criminal aliens,” and there has been nearly 20 percent increase in the deportation rate of criminal illegal immigrants since President Barack Obama took office.

3)  “The plain fact of the matter is — you cannot live freely if you live in fear”

4)  Napolitano observed that the Dream Act was consistently “the most popular part of any immigration attempt in Congress.”

The Arizona DREAM Act Coalition was organized, on-point, ready.  As we entered the hall and coordinated where we were going to sit, who was wearing the caps and gowns, and who would be holding the DREAM Act signs, you could tell that the people around us were a little nervous—or at least curious.  Kirsten Sinema (AZ State Legislature) and Jose Cardenas (Chief ASU Counsel) were amongst the audience members, and they both knew we were there and what our message was.  There was tension in the room, and we didn’t even say a word.  We didn’t say a word through the whole program, but our message was sent.

Michael Crow decided to ask at least three questions about immigration reform and focused heavily on the DREAM Act.  On first mention of the DREAM Act thirty members of the Arizona DREAM Act Coalition stood up and clapped.  Wearing caps and gowns and holding signs, they made a powerful statement.  Secretary Napolitano could not ignore that and so after 10 seconds of clapping she started clapping herself and said “give it up!”  Gaby, one of our members, had a DREAM Act sign.  Secretary Napolitano looked right at her and gave her thumbs up.

Mr. Crow and Secretary Napolitano, we appreciate your support.  Many would call it lip-service, and they may be right.  Either way, we are all in agreement that words have not made a difference.  We need action.  In terms of action, I give you a thumbs down.

What does a finish line matter if the race has not even begun?  Who exactly are the players, Secretary Napolitano, that will get immigration reform and the DREAM Act over the finished line?

What does it mean to be a criminal immigrant?  Does it mean that my mom is a criminal immigrant when she gets pulled over for a broken tail light and is arrested?  But I guess it doesn’t even matter, since the majority or immigrants referred to ICE do not even have criminal convictions.

There cannot be freedom in fear and there cannot be security in fear.  Our broken immigration system and the policies of the Department of Home Land Security, policies which allow neo-nazi Sheriffs to target and attack people based on their skin color, clothing, and demeanor, have created communities that live in fear.  These communities will not trust the police, will not trust the State, will not trust the Census, and will not trust the Obama administration.

Immigration Reform is a matter of national security.  It is also a matter of national morality.  This is why the DREAM Act has overwhelming support because anyone that says educated, committed, hard-working Americans should be deported and attacked for something they had no control over is just plain immoral.

Check out more pictures in the Pictures Section

For Video Click Here At 8:17 Napolitano says “give it up!”

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A little over a month ago I wrote a letter to President Obama.  While I was writing I realized I had much to say, so I started this blog.  I have been blessed with having an experience not shared by the majority of Americans.  I have also been blessed with having friends that share this experience.  In my writing I hope to capture my experience and their voices.  Today, I received a response from President Obama.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          (CLICK TO ENLARGE)


Mr. President, I am disappointed.  I poured my heart out and you sent me a form letter!  Is the experience of immigrants in this country today not important enough for you to send at least a short note personally written by you?  But I’m not surprised, since I have not seen you doing much for immigration reform lately.

And you’ve been sending this general response letter to everyone!  Genie Z., long-time DREAM Act advocate and humanitarian, received the same letter.  She was also disappointed.  Not just at the fact you wrote this sweet woman a form letter, but also because your letter made no sense!!

Genie writes:  “In two paragraphs, he shows he does not understand our undocumented situation. In one, he says that “we must require undocumented immigrants who are already here to step out of the shadows and onto a responsible path to earn citizenship by demonstrating sound character, and commitment to America and a strong work ethic.”  There are so many things wrong in that one statement that I am using 3 letters to explain.  First – they step out of the shadows and get deported.  Second, they can no longer demonstrate a strong work ethic, because their jobs of many years are now requiring E-verify.  Third – they have been here demonstrating sound character and commitment to America. They have been doing that for years!”

President, perhaps we need to speak a little louder.  We deserve and demand a personal response.

DREAMers and supporters listen up.  I am calling on you to write the president.  Write every day if you have to.  Share your stories.  We will write President Obama until one of us gets a personal response from him and I will post it on this blog!

Write Write Write, and whatever response you get, form letter or personal response, send it to me.  In order to hear from our President, we have to make him tired of hearing from us!

President Obama, you will to write to us because although our experience is not shared by the majority of Americans today, it is an experience shared by many generations of Americans, an experience that is the heart of our beloved country.

Steps:

1)  Write the President

2)  Post a comment on this blog telling us you wrote

3)  Wait for a Response

4)  Send me the Response you get

Address:

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

(Please include your e-mail address)

Goal for a DREAM

Host: Arizona DREAM Act Coalition West Valley DREAM Team

My fingers were numb 20 minutes into the fruit-bag making.  I had never handled so much fruit in my life!  I was up at 5am ready to bag but the success of the previous night’s event made it a little harder for everyone to get up that morning.  Thursday evening the East Valley DREAM Team hosted the DREAM Act Play in Mesa, Friday Night the Central Valley DREAM Team hosted Bread and Roses in Downtown Phoenix, and Sunday morning five teams were going to face off for the DREAM Cup during the West Valley DREAM Team’s event Goal for a DREAM at Arizona State University West.

Saturday morning was cloudy and smelled of wet earth.  Immediately the concern was turn-out, were people going to come?  Everyone worried, but one thing we knew for sure was that the players were going to do their thing come rain or shine.  Arriving at the tournament I could see the teams ready to start, waiting for a whistle to pump energy right to their veins.  The families were scattered around and the West Valley DREAM Team was signing students in and handing out drinks and snacks.

The game of soccer is beautiful!  Each player has a purpose they must know well.  They’re placed where they’re best suited, positioned to excel.  Over 60 students were on that field.  The support of the families was amazing.  They jolted at every netting kick, cringed at every red card trick.  Soccer is the place where one is kneed, elbowed, pulverized, while the other is pulled, grabbed, and shinned.  What made the day special, however, were the challenges on and off the field.

The West Valley DREAM Team struggled to make the event happened.  Plans were changed last minute, soccer teams dropped in and out, and the fields reserved were close to being off-limits.  Everyone expected rain that morning to pour and weigh down an already exhausted crowd of volunteers.  And no there were not three hundred people there, but there were five soccer teams composed of energetic and talented youth.  Many of them were undocumented.  When some of those kids heard they were competing to promote the DREAM Act they truly gave it their all.  Usually the types of DREAMers we hear about are lawyers, doctors, engineers.  But on that field were DREAMers that literally gave their sweat, blood and tears to the game.  When they fall they push harder, run the extra sprint, and stay the extra minute.

They are playing the same game that Erika plays when she has an injured knee but decides to kick the ball anyway, risking further injury.  They are playing the same game as Rocio who helped make the event possible and was worried all through the day because a family member had just been deported.  Rocio is not undocumented, but she is a DREAMer, and the game is part of her.

Members of the Arizona DREAM Act Coalition walked around talking about the DREAM Act one family at a time.  They spoke to the students, thanked them, and encouraged them to keep fighting.  Many of them did not know about the DREAM Act, including those who were DREAMers themselves.  Their life is soccer.  Like many DREAMers, they probably believe that if they run fast enough, jump high enough, hit hard enough, one day the world will notice them and say, Hey, Join Our Team!

There were several injuries, but the game continued.  The DREAM Cup was awarded to the best team.  It was a long day but the group and teams stumbled through.  Once again DREAMers showed their resilience, their commitment to continue.

Even when the ball is lost, DREAMers keep playing, because they know turnovers will come.   DREAMers weather the storm, and fight on the field as hard as they fight off of it.  There are moments of silence but there are no regrets.  There are missed shots but there is no looking back, only forward.  And they’re asked what keeps them going, how they can play that game.  With heart, they say, that’s the real answer.

For More Pictures See “Pictures”

and

Visit http://www.azdreamactcoalition.org