Despite the climate of fear the Tanton Network has tried to create, DREAM Act supporters have been at the forefront of resistance. DREAM activists have risked deportation, protested outside of the ICE headquarters in Arizona and staged hunger strikes among other measures.
The DREAM Act would provide certain undocumented students the opportunity to earn conditional permanent residency if they complete two years in the military or two years at a four year institution of higher learning. The Tanton Network, a constellation of anti-immigrant organizations including FAIR, CIS and NumbersUSA, vehemently opposes any pro-immigrant legislation, including access to higher education.
In the last month the fight to pass the bill has intensified. DREAM Act supporters have organized actions across the country including the border states of Arizona, California and Texas.
On November 19, undocumented students in favor of the DREAM Act took on ICE in Phoenix, Arizona. With diplomas in hand, dozens of undocumented youth read their testimonies in front of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement building. Facing the risk of deportation, students stood outside of ICE offices chanting “We are undocumented and Unafraid.”
Earlier in November, it was undocumented students who directly confronted State Senator Russell Pearce during the Midterm Election for his support of draconian anti-immigrant legislation. According to a recent report by Village Voice media , “Like many successful illegal-immigration populists, Russell Pearce gets his ‘hard costs of illegal immigration,’ and his talking points, from the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a Washington, D.C.-based, self-described public interest nonprofit founded in 1979.”
In California, where the anti-immigrant movement has been successful in introducing an SB1070-style ballot initiative and Kris Kobach recently failed to institute anti-immigrant state legislation focused on university tuition, DREAM activists have courageously resisted. Starting November 29, fifteen undocumented students launched a caravan from Palm Springs to Sacramento pushing for the right to education and work.
Earlier this week, fifteen college students were arrested in San Antonio, Texas, while rallying in support of the Dream Act. Mostly undocumented, the students were arrested on criminal trespass charges Monday night at the local offices of U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison after they refused to leave.
A majority of the Texas students were on their third straight week of a hunger strike. The strike began two weeks ago with a dozen students at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Now campuses in Austin, Dallas, Arlington, Brownsville and Edinburg are standing strong in opposition to the anti-immigrant movement.
In the wake of attempts by the Tanton Network to create an environment of fear and exclusion for undocumented students, the DREAM activists are standing strong. Undocumented and unafraid; it’s time to stand with them.