Out of the shadows, into the streets: Dreamers rally for reform

By Laura Hancq
March 21, 2011

Over 150 undocumented immigrants and their allies shared their stories, struggles and hopes at Independence Mall in Philadelphia on March 19. The crowd proceeded to march to the U.S. Customs House on 2nd and Chestnut in support of the DREAM Act legislation. --kelsey alvino / asst. perspectives editor

For 65,000 high school graduates a year, the stress of applying to colleges turns into a nightmare by the absence of a nine-digit social security number and the mark of an “illegal” status.

On Saturday, March 19, the Pennsylvania DREAM Activists, which include many undocumented young people, risked deportation and stepped out of the shadows and into Independence Mall. About 150 people, including allies and members of the media, came out in support and marched to the U.S. Customs House.

For these young adults who have been in the United States since childhood and have graduated high school, there is a possible solution. It is a proposed bill entitled the DREAM Act, which would aid them on their way to citizenship by continuing into higher education at a more affordable cost or by serving two years in the military.

Cabrini united with other colleges from the region, including Villanova and Eastern University, in support of the DREAM Activists.

Jamie Tadrzynski, junior history and education major, was inspired by all the support from the college students and other attendees.

“It’s amazing to see so many people from so many different walks of life come together for one common good,” Tadrzynski said.

“Undocumented, Unafraid and Unapologetic,” and “Out of the shadows, into the streets,” were the slogans of the activists as they each told their heart-wrenching tales of ultimate denial by the United States.

Karina, a young woman born in the Ukraine, told her story of being accepted to Villanova University. Like many undocumented college applicants, she was accepted as an “international student,” despite the fact she graduated from an American high school. She was forced to pay international tuition, which is triple the amount. She was able to start but could not afford to continue.

“I petitioned everyone at the school, even the president of Villanova, to please look over my case,” Karina said.

DREAM Activists, alongside allies, reveal their undocumented status. --kelsey alvino / asst. perspectives editor

“I was told it was too complicated and no one could help. I ended up losing my on-campus job because I had spoken out. My life came to a slow halt and there was

nothing I could do.”

Jorge led the march carrying a homemade coffin labeled broken dreams. Inside the small coffin were hundreds of printouts of high school diplomas representing the thousands of dead dreams of the undocumented graduates.

Some of the speakers wore their own graduation caps, while a man named Omar even donned his graduation robe. Omar was the president of his high school class in 2008, and was a varsity award-winning athlete.

“I felt at home like any other American citizen and soon that came crashing down,” Omar said.

Omar applied to colleges, choosing not to let his undocumented status stop him. All that stood in his way was a social security number.

“I couldn’t attain my social security number through hard work or dedication,” Omar said. “Realizing that was when my nightmare truly began. I had a bright future, only to be turned away by the country that I always loved and called home.”


Cabrini students were among the 150 people in the crowd --kelsey alvino / asst. perspectives editor


video by: Felicia Melvin

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Laura Hancq

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