There is a new civil rights movement taking over. The leaders of this movement, though, are not professionals, politicians, or adults. The leaders of this movement are not even American citizens. Undocumented immigrant youth are leading huge protests and demonstrations for the DREAM act that will promise them the right to an education.
Undocumented youth are risking it all to publicly fight for equal opportunities, to tell their stories, and to give a face to an issue that affects more than 2 million youth just like them. They're taking their fate into their own hands and by doing so, they risk getting arrested and being deported.
This past April, four undocumented Hispanic students in their 20's marched more than 1,500 miles from Florida to Capital Hill to protest our immigration system. The group called themselves the Trail of Dreams and set off a wave of youth across the country to take action for the bill.
On July 20, many students were arrested as they staged a sit-in inside the capitol’s lobby, demanding approval of the Dream Act. Jose Herrera, a member of the Immigrant Youth Justice League (IYJL) stated, “We are here because yesterday, nine of our IYJL members were arrested for what they believed. We are here to show solidarity with our members. What they did is what all of us should be doing, which is standing for their rights to be legalized and the right to achieve a higher education.”
Undocumented youth across the country are coming out of the shadows like these students have to express their determination and to show that they are not afraid.
The American Dream is to have the opportunity to make the best of your own life, no matter where you came from or how rich you are. But for millions of teenagers in America, their land of opportunity fades away when the time for college comes around. 11 million illegal teenagers live in the United States and although it wasn't their choice to illegally immigrate into the U.S., they are paying the consequences of their parents' actions.
The goal of the Dream Act is to acknowledge this population and to give these students, some who have been living in the U.S. almost their entire lives, the opportunity to continue their education. Currently, alien minors have no way besides through their parents of obtaining permanent status. If they were to return to their country of birth and re-apply for legal status they would face a 10 year probation from the U.S. government. Under the act, those who came into the U.S. before they were 16, graduated from an American high school, and are of "good moral character," will be granted 6 years of "conditional" status to complete at least two years of college or at least two years in the armed forces.If they meet the conditions, after 6 years they will be eligible to apply for permanent residence.
These students have been waiting year after year to be granted permission to go to college. Now, they are showing that they will not stop until they are allowed to do so.