Last week, I shared with you people's stories of sacrifice, and I asked you to watch a 30-minute documentary about four DREAMers. I hope you were able to check it out. (If not, can you save a half-hour tonight? You'll definitely want to watch it.)
And while we're getting close to a time when we'll have to make sure our legislators stand up for the immigrant community, it's important to take a moment to each examine what the issue means to us and why.
Let's have a conversation -- what I want to know is: What has moved you most about the struggles of immigrants, whether the ones in this film or in your personal life? How do you identify with these struggles?
For me, what resonates most deeply is just how determined DREAMers are to be acknowledged as part of the American story -- because born here or abroad, we all have something to contribute.
My family moved from Mexico to Chicago one November when I was a child. I vividly remember waiting for the bus in sub-zero temperatures, totally unaccustomed to and unprepared for the cold, because we couldn't afford a car or childcare yet. I went to work with my parents, and that meant waiting outside, often huddled under the flap of my dad's coat.
When we finally saved enough to buy a car, my dad would get up at 4 am, manually open the hood of our patched-together car, and spray it down with some kind of anti-freeze that would make it turn on before he could leave for work. It took an extra 20 minutes. It sounds like a silly example, but it taught me perseverance on me at a young age.
Because he left so early, he also got home early, whereas my mom worked late; so I remember my dad spending a lot of time with me. That was a sacrifice for him -- he'd end up putting on talent shows and making crafts with me instead of resting. It's hard enough to make things work -- jobs, marriage, children -- to say nothing of doing so in a new country. But my parents did everything they could to give me a "normal" life.
Why shouldn't we be proud of their love, sacrifice, and perseverance? Why shouldn't that be part of our American story?
When I watched the film, it was moving to see how hard other young people are fighting to be able to pursue their dreams, even within a system that unfairly "others" them. Of course they want to serve this country. Of course they want to go to college.
In fact, immigrants all across the country are contributing to economy, creating jobs and have even founded some of the most successful Fortune 500 companies. We should be proud that we've inspired such brave aspirations. Why should dreams be different for people whose families came from somewhere else?
The Dream Is Now was a reminder to me that Washington's discriminatory policies against immigrant communities are incredibly unfair, and that we've got to do something about them if we believe that helping people dream big -- and follow through -- is a worthy ambition.
That's why I work to support OFA volunteers, and why I'm helping build communities that are ready to take action on immigration: because I believe that what's at stake isn't just our families, but also the idea that everyone has the right to dream.
What resonates the most with you about the struggle of immigrants?
Regional Organizing Manager
Organizing for Action
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