Now and then in the history of this great nation its citizens are forced to face a choice between the country that we were, the country that we are, and the country which we seek to be.  An American phantasm has re-appeared to reflect the injustice and inhumanity of an immigration system that leaves America broken

            The sound of the shot was loud and acute.  Although it could have been from the violent and gruesome games that children play now a day, it was surely an irregular and deafening sound exploding in the middle of a quiet home one night after thanksgiving.  He ran into the restroom where his little brother walked into only minutes after kissing his parents.  He dragged his little brother out of the restroom into the kitchen, blood dripping from his little brother’s suit and tie unto the kitchen floor. What happens to a dream deferred?

Joaquin Luna was 18 years old; a senior at Juarez Lincoln High in Mission, Texas.  He left letters behind, like so many youth do after committing suicide.  Some of them write about being bullied for being gay, some of them write about something that happened to them and were too ashamed to live with.  Some ask for forgiveness, and others just ask questions.  What happens to the dreamer?

Now we must stop a Moral Race to the Bottom.  An “other countries treat them worse” approach to immigration reform is repugnant to the values that make this country the best in the world.  Where is America the moral leader?  We cannot lead on a moral stage when our streets are filled with terror and the ugly separation of families.  We cannot be great when we decide to do what is easiest instead of what is right

            Joaquin Luna believed it was better dead than to be undocumented.  Yes, he wrote about the failure of the Dream Act and the bleak opportunities he had of continuing his education.  I will not, however, reduce his death to a mere political jab against those that voted against the Dream Act in 2010.  Joaquin Lunas’ death, like the death of many other Dreamers that have committed suicide, speaks to an issue bigger than the Dream Act.

Even in the face of record-breaking deportations by the Obama Administration, expansion of the failed (In) Secure Communities Program and Arizona copy-cat legislation across the nation, it wasn’t deportation that Joaquin feared.  “He was saying he was going to do this because he wasn’t going to be able to continue with his college.”  Even though Texas is considered a moderately friendly state towards immigrant youth (providing in-state tuition), Joaquin’s greatest fear was being unable to achieve his dream of being an engineer.

Our families have seen things that might break you, rattle and make you, wonder why the heck this is called the land of opportunity, the land of the free and the home of the brave.  It is us.  Is the vision that we paint, the question that we pose, of the Nation that we are and the nation that we could be.

            For all Dreamers that have contemplated suicide:  even though I don’t know you, I love you.  Even though I don’t ride in the same car or go to the same school, I feel your fear.  Even though we sleep in different streets, we have a common dream.  Even though you are not here with me, you are not alone.  We are not alone.  I too, am Joaquin.

Our minds have felt beat and sore, but our soul keeps commanding it off the floor and says keep marching on, keep dreaming, keep demanding a chance for more, keep sailing these storms for shore.      

 I could have been that big brother, holding my sister in my arms.  We have to give them hope.  If you’re a sister, if you’re a friend, if you’re a pastor, if you’re a teacher, we have to give them hope.  I fight because I know if I fight I will not be alone.  And when I fight I fight with hope, because with hope I know we can win.

In memory of Joaquin and all the Dreamers no longer with us:  Give them hope, give them love, these are still benefits that do not require a 9-digit number.

For more information on Joaquin Luna, CLICK HERE

For more information about the Dream Act and the vigil for Joaquin and Dreamers organized by the Arizona Dream Act Coalition being held Friday December 2nd, 2011, check out —


Quick video I took of America Ferrera expressing her support for the DREAM Act and encouraging the Arizona DREAM Act Coalition to keep fighting:

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DREAM Army in Washington, D.C.


Fast for our Dreams in Front of Senator McCain’s Office


DREAM Act Rally at Arizona State University


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On Friday November 19, 2010, members of the Arizona DREAM Act Coalition went to ICE headquarters in downtown Phoenix.  Opponents of immigration have the misconception that there is a “line” for people to get in.  As DREAM Act students proved on Friday, there is no actual “line” leading to a proper procedure of legalization.  Upon arriving to ICE offices, students sought for the speculated “line”, asked ICE personnel and were able to conclude and complete their mission that the appropriate line is the DREAM Act.  Although the Sheriff department was present, students were not intimidated and fulfilled their objective.  This was evidently shown as students formed a line on ICE offices sidewalk, leading them to the virtual gateway of the DREAM Act.

On Thursday November 18th, 2010 undocumented students gathered at the Arizona State Capital to “Come out of the Shadows” as undocumented and unafraid. In front of peers, allies and the media, they came out as future lawyers, psychologists, and engineers. About a dozen students exposed their legal status while also speaking about the contributions they could provide to this country.
Laws such as SB 1070, Proposition 300 and 287G have oppressed the immigrant community in Arizona, yet, these students state they are not intimidated by the misguided tactic of politicians. The “Coming out of the Shadows” event was not only for undocumented youth to reveal their status, it was also a launch of a campaign to ‘bring out’ politicians that use immigrants as a scapegoat for issues such as the economy and education.



On Saturday November 13, 2010, the 5th annual Stylos Awards were presented in the downtown Phoenix Art Museum.  The awards ceremony recognized Latino spirit and talent in the valley.  Aside from shedding light on Latino culture and progressive issues, Stylos simultaneously raises funds to aid Latino scholars, such as the Isaac Amaya Scholarship.  The Arizona DREAM Act Coalition (ADAC) won the award for “Best Organization of the Year” and Daniel Rodriguez won “Activist of the Year.” This prestigious recognition of the ADAC and one of their leaders is a reflection of the arduous work and dedication ADAC members in their roles as agents of change.


The bipartisan Arizona DREAM Act Coalition (ADAC) has partnered with Somos Republican, a network of Hispanic Republican groups headquartered in Arizona, in an effort to gain bipartisan support for the passage of the DREAM Act.  The project “Conservatives for the DREAM” includes the creation of a website, a series of town halls in Republican districts, and a billboard to generate discussion of the DREAM Act within conservative, specifically Republican, communities.

Dulce Matuz, political and policy adviser for the ADAC, states that “the DREAM Act began as bipartisan legislation, if it is to pass this year we must keep that bipartisan spirit alive.”  Bipartisanship will be needed if the DREAM Act is put for a vote.  Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid had stated that he will put the DREAM Act in the Senate floor but that he will need a handful of Republican votes.

Somos Republicans founder DeeDee Blasé joined the project to garner enough support in conservative communities in order to acquire the needed Republican votes.  “As a conservative organization, we believe the DREAM Act does not grant young people any entitlements, but rather an earned legalization through hard work, discipline, and dedication to our great nation” says Blasé.

The ADACs efforts to reach across the aisle have received negative reactions within the traditionally-liberal DREAM Act base of supporters.  “I support the DREAM Act but we shouldn’t pretend like the Republican party cares about immigrants, not after all that is going on in Arizona” states Joel Guerrero, advocate for the DREAM Act.  Jose Patino, member of the ADAC, has a different view of the project, stating “our efforts to communicate with the Republican Party lately go beyond the need for congressional votes.  We are all Americans, we are all human, and we all believe in American values.  If we are to create any long-term change we need to get out of our comfort zone and talk to each other.”

Matuz says “we need Republican votes now to pass the DREAM Act and we need Republican support later to change the immoral conditions and ineffective laws that irresponsible politicians have created.”

“We need Republican leadership that is willing to listen to what Republicans support” states Matuz.  Republican Senator John McCain has long-time been considered a Republican leader in this issue.  Senator McCain has sponsored the DREAM Act in the past but walked out of a vote in 2007.  His current position is to secure the border first before dealing with any prospects of legalization for some of the immigrants here. A June 2010 FIRSTFOCUS report indicated that 70% of the people surveyed supported the DREAM Act, with 60% of the Republican participants supporting it.  Rasmussen Poll showed that 78% of Americans support undocumented students legalizing through military service.

House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi has also recently promised to put the DREAM Act up for a vote during the lame duck session.  The expected DREAM Act vote in the Senate and in the House will show whether there are any Republicans in Congress that are willing to drop the enforcement-only approach and work towards solving one of our nation’s toughest challenges in a more reasonable manner.  For many, the DREAM Act is the first step.

“Illegal is illegal, why can’t you understand that,” Arizona Senate Majority Leader Russell Pearce. “Mr. Pearce how can you blame the sins of our fathers on us,” Daniela Cruz, ADAC member. As projected the GOP enjoyed a great victory in the 2010 midterm elections, gaining 60 House seats, from 189 to 239, as well as 5 Senate seats, taking the grand total from 41 to 46.

ADAC reached out to the conservative base during the midterm elections. “We believe the DREAM Act is a bipartisan bill, hence we attempt to garner support from the GOP,” David Guerrero. After Governor Jan Brewer completed her acceptance speech during the Republican Victory Celebration, ADAC members were able to speak to Russell Pearce behind the scenes. “You seem like a nice girl, I just want to stop all the criminals from entering the country,” Arizona Senator Pearce, regarding Daniela Cruz.  Russell Pearce was irate at the DREAMers that confronted him on immigration issues, specifically his role in passing Prop 300, which denied DREAMers public scholarships and in-state tuition.  The video confrontation has become a Youtube hit.

The Arizona DREAM Act Coalition (ADAC) held a March to the Polls on November 2, 2010 to encourage all of their supporters, Republican and Democrat alike, to march to the voting polls together in support of bipartisanship for the DREAM Act.  Dulce Matuz, political and policy adviser, stated ““We can’t have bipartisanship at the top without having bipartisanship at the bottom.  Democratic and Republican DREAM Act supporters in Phoenix will show Washington that we can come together to solve tough issues.  This march is just the beginning of a series of bipartisanship events in support of the DREAM Act.”

“Granting citizenship to individuals who broke the law will undermine American Values.” “The Law is the Law, and you illegal’s broke the law.” “I personally feel for the undocumented students, but the culprits of your situation are your parents, take it up with them.” This has been the conservative rhetoric over the past years regarding immigrants and the DREAM Act. On November 01, 2010 the Arizona DREAM Act Coalition (ADAC) organized a town hall where Conservatives, Liberals, Progressives and Libertarians across the state united on the Tempe Campus of Arizona State University.

There are many misconceptions of what the DREAM Act will provide to undocumented youth if enacted.  The mission of the town hall series is to clarify the fallacies. The passage of the DREAM Act is of too great importance for misunderstandings to be held back in Congress another year.  The ADAC believes that to reach out to the conservative is necessary to come to an understanding.  Conservatives value education and military service; as do dreamers across the nation.