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“We will continue to accomplish the unbelievable”

December 23, 2010 - Posted by Maurice Belanger

DREAM Press Conference


 


The following guest blog post is from Julieta Garibay, a young DREAM activist who was in Washington, along with hundreds of her fellow activists, in the days before the votes in the House and the Senate on the DREAM Act.  Julieta, who holds a Masters in Nursing from The University of Texas at Austin, gives her impressions of the DREAM votes in Congress, and reflects on how far the undocumented Dreamers have come in the years leading up to this moment.


 


This December was unforgettable; our historic victory in the House of Representatives was an experience of a lifetime. As I held hands with veteran Dream leaders and new ones, we cried for joy when Speaker Pelosi said 216 votes in favor. 


 


However, the vote in the Senate for the DREAM Act was only a reaffirmation that Dreamers and families alike must continue to fight for our liberty and justice. As I sat in the Senate gallery, I remembered that, six years ago, the concept of sharing my story as an undocumented immigrant in public was not only foreign, but also incredibly terrifying. We did not have “education-not-deportation” campaigns, the resources or networks we now have. Although I was fearful of deportation, I refused to be silent anymore. I decided to tell the world that I was undocumented, others needed to know that I existed. Today, Dreamers have liberated themselves and say “undocumented and unafraid” in meetings, with friends, in the media. They too have refused to live in the shadows.


 


For the past years and even decades, many of us have yearned to be accepted and recognized as part of this country—to no longer be rejected or denied.  I clearly remember years ago, as I read some “official governmental research article” and I saw the words “illegal alien,” I asked my friend, “are they referring to us?” and she said “yes.”  It saddened me to know that not only did fear-mongering individuals referred to me as an illegal alien, but that even professionally-written documents had such concept for me.  This past week, we have won that battle of labeling; major media outlets referred to us as “undocumented students.”  To me, those few words made me realize that one more battle on behalf of Dreamers was won. 


 


We have taken the concept of liberating ourselves to a whole new level. Never in the history of DREAM advocacy had we filled a Senate building as we said the pledge of allegiance, nor had the military Dreamers been able to openly show their love, devotion, and their immense desire to serve this country.  Congress members and staffers alike knew that the Dreamers were there.  They heard our stories, some prayed with us as we prayed in their offices.  Our presence was acknowledged.  We were no longer in the shadows, and for that we won!


 


As we said the pledge of allegiance right after the vote, you could hear and feel that we Dreamers felt it from the bottom of our hearts.  It was no longer words; it was our conviction that we are Americans.  As I stood amongst my fellow Dreamers, I too recited the pledge loud and clear.  I am part of this nation and I do believe we will have “liberty and justice for all.” As we huddled outside the gallery with hundreds of Dreamers, disappointed and crushed, we once again made our presence evident.  We held our ground outside the Senate gallery as we held each other.  We cried and prayed.  Not even the security could move us.  As Dreamers continued to arrive and join the huddle by the hundreds, I knew that our fight would not stop.  We are together in this fight, and we will make sure that our dreams and determination will not be stopped by the vote of a few congress members.


 


Although I no longer am qualified for the DREAM Act because of the age cap, I decided to fight for the win that Dreamers dearly need.  In my attempt to do anything in my power to help it pass, I decided to give Sen. Hutchison my bachelor and master degree as well as my RN license.  I needed to show her that my most prized possessions were in her hands.  She needed to know that she could make the difference between me having some pretty frames on my wall and being able to truly fulfill my professional career.  Sadly, she looked straight in my eyes and said, “I will vote No … until next year.”  I can only say that neither Texas Dreamers nor I will ever forget. 


 


I cannot continue to be living in fear; I cannot let my profession and education go to waste.  I will no longer tolerate injustice. We have dared to dream and we will not give up.  We have come too far and have overcome many obstacles and I can assure you that we will continue to accomplish the unbelievable.  We will reach high mountains.


 


A 30-year old dreamer


Julieta Garibay


 


Image: Maurice Belanger

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