The DREAM Act: justice for all

By Chelbi Mims
March 21, 2011

When I first heard about the DREAM Act and undocumented youth in America I really thought nothing of it.

I thought nothing of it because it didn’t affect my life. I am able to go to college, receive my driver’s license and not always live in constant fear that my family will be taken away from me. I know this is a quite selfish way of thinking but it goes back to the thought process: out of sight out of mind.

Cabrini students join undocumented Philadelphians at the Independence Center. -- photos by eric gibble/news editor

This thought concept changed when I joined the DREAM Activist rally on Saturday, March 16. Growing up in Texas, I went to school with hundreds of students who were undocumented. I never thought twice about their life after my high school graduation.

The students who organized the rally took the scales off my eyes. The students that spoke and led the rally were my age and although I take school for granted, they would give anything to have an education. When I graduated from high school, my biggest obstacle was deciding which college I would choose.

These students don’t have the luxury of wondering which school to choose because they do not have a simple social security number and are not able to receive financial aid or the opportunity to go to college.

Each student stood in front of everyone at the rally and told his or her story. They didn’t care who was listening. NBC 10 and many other news stations were in attendance covering the rally. These students went public with their undocumented status and didn’t care who knew.

As each person spoke, more tears began rolling down my face. I was not crying because I felt sorry for them, I cried because they have worked so hard and are asking for an American right that cannot be granted.

I was crying because I thought about how many times I have taken school for granted, how many times I have taken my family for granted and treated them rudely and these students simply wish to go to college, receive a diploma and help their families.

The story that stuck out to me the most was of a girl who graduated high school and was accepted to Villanova University. She attended Villanova University for six months but when the dean and president realized she was an undocumented citizen, she was taken out of her campus job and furthermore kicked out of school.

 Some of the many sign held by activists and undocumented youth coming out of the shadows. -- photos by eric gibble
Some of the many sign held by activists and undocumented youth coming out of the shadows. -- photos by eric gibble/news editor

She contacted the president of Villanova University and many other administrative people on Villanova’s campus but was told her situation was too complicated.

This story affected me because in a country where democracy is the backbone, how can a situation be too complicated?

She was not asking Villanova for something outrageous. She had the grades and merit to be accepted into the university, so why can she not attend the school?

As we marched to the customs building, we screamed chants ranging from “up, up with education, down, down with deportation” and “undocumented and unafraid.” Once at the customs building we signed diplomas to give to the customs officals but they would not take them.

Even though the customs officials wouldn’t have take the box of diplomas I think we made a major impact on Saturday.

As we marched, many people stopped us and asked what were we marching for and once we told them they were thrilled and signed the petition. As we walked across the streets people blew their horns and once we reached the customs building, about 50 people were added to our group of rally members.

I think a lot of times a prejeduce is held to undocumented people in America, but if people would take the time to remove the scales from their eyes, like I did, they would see that the DREAM Act will better the economy and it is really just giving youth a chance.

It all goes back to the Martin Luther King quote, “Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.”



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Chelbi Mims

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