Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Day Barack Obama Met a Dreamer

I had a chance to meet with our future President, Barack Obama, back when he was still trying to fundraise for the primaries. No one knew what he was about yet and the event was small and humble. I was invited to that event by chance.

It was one of those, you-know-that-journalist-who-knows-that-lady-with-the-dog-who-needs-walking-well-her-good-friend's-best-friend's-house-is-having-an-event type of deal. I ended up talking to him exclusively for about ten minutes in what has become a conversation I will always treasure. I expressed my gratitude to him for being a co-sponsor of the Federal D.R.E.A.M Act, I informed him about the work that has been done, the coalitions that have been formed, and about the need for our new president to understand the issue.

He listened as I spoke and held my hand. He then said, "I am so proud of the work that you do and I am so proud of the students who do this work." He talked about the need to reach across the aisle. He was honest and said it would be hard work, but understood the need clearly.

Soon after that, as the work on the California Dream Act heated up, he released a statement (the only candidate to do so) in support of our efforts:


U.S. Senator Barack Obama, who played an integral role in passing the Illinois
version of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act)while serving in the State Senate and is a cosponsor of the legislation in the U.S. Senate, today released the following statement urging Governor Schwarzenegger to sign the DREAM Act into law:

"You know our immigration system is truly broken when we punish children who have learned English and worked hard to succeed in school so that they can become American citizens. Enforcement alone will not solve the immigration crisis we face. If Governor Schwarzenegger vetoes the DREAM Act a second time, he will compound the immigration crisis by driving thousands of children who were on the right path into the shadows. We teach our children that in America, you will thrive if you work hard and dream big. Governor Schwarzenegger now has the chance to demonstrate that instead of blaming one group for the challenges America faces, he can unite Californians and give children who play by the rules the opportunity to succeed."

Yes, that man will be our president.

As a past co-sponsor of the federal bill, and as a supporter of the issues we face in California, it looks promising and comforting to know that our new president not only understands, but has demonstrated support for undocumented students. But that unfortunately, that may not be enough. Let's keep an eye on the House and Senate.

After looking at the new makeup of the Senate, Susan, a fellow Dreamer, broke it down for us:

  • 52 existing ayes on Dream Act cloture vote
  • add 3 former co-sponsors who didn't vote for it because they were running for president at the time
  • add Boxer (D-CA) who was absent in 2007 because of the California fires but is a co-sponsor
  • add the 5 new democrats IF they were to vote aye (this is where we have to work it!!!)

52+9 =61 enough to pass a cloture vote!

Let's not forget that the issue has been bi-partisan, we can get more Republicans on board as well.

Fellow Dreamers: Light has come to shine on our Journey. Hope is in the air and progress around the corner. Yes, change is coming. Let this be our time, let this be our year, let's make it happen. Let's make our own history. Who's with me?


Ana said...

When Dreamers meet, the world can change. Through conversation, without pre-conditions, but with sincerity, honesty, and above all - willingness, we can change teh nations.

Today is the first day Fabi, that we need to start working together and reconstruct America. Today is the first day we need to hold our President-elect accountable for that brief an beautiful conversation.

lovely adventures said...

I'm excited to see what will unfold for the DREAM act! Once again, I want to applaud you on all the work you have put into this effort. :)!

Scudder said...

I will forever be jealous that you had this conversation with OBAMA!

You are right, getting Obama in office was just the first step. We need to re-focus the energy he has generated to the specific issues. Lets get to work!

Anonymous said...

This is truly a beautiful time in the history, and for the future of the United States. Today, I FEEL American even though I did not get the opportunity to vote. (Now, normally I feel American everyday, but today I wanted to be one of those weirdos who walks around with a flag draped luxuriously around her shoulders...)

I think you hit a good point: We still have loads more to achieve to get to wear we want to be. The President Elect's journey will be hard, and so will ours.

Obama speaks beautiful words 24/7. I'm excited to see him act, and I hope he remains just as sincere in those actions as he was to you with those words on that fortunate day. Also, we must remain optimistic. Republicans like McCain love us, too. If we work hard enough, I am sure we can gain more of such lovers. :-)

Fabiola Inzunza said...

Agreed. Knowing that the issue is bi-partisan, let's not only hold the Democrats accountable, but energize the Republican support.

Lizbeth Mateo said...

Dear Faby,

I am with you every step of the way. This is it, this IS our time, but I also agree that we cannot leave our DREAMs for others to make them a reality. And quoting our new President-elect Barack Obama, (and I say OUR, because although we were not able to vote for him, we DREAMERS did our part in making this historic change possible) I’d like to remind everyone that,

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change we seek.”

The road will not be easy, but today our hopes have been renewed and new energy has filled out hearts. Thanks Faby, Matias, and the whole team of “Underground Undergrads” for the great work you do.

Let’s go DREAMers, our time has come!!!

andre said...


Caro said...

I am so glad he is president! I can feel that he will work hard to represent us and that he will push the country forward!! YES WE CAN!!!

aj.titong said...

I am so enamored by the thought that he is going to be our president. Not only does he know the struggles of our people, but he has lived through them and has fought along side to fight those very struggles. Your meeting with him and his letter to urge the passage of the CA Dream Act is testament that we are so close.-YES WE CAN!

Erin Jerri Malonzo Pangilinan said...

That was a beautiful post. What an honor to meet now President-elect Obama. I commend you for your hard work. Let's pass the Federal DREAM Act and State Senator Gilbert Cedillo's office will continue to push for the CA DREAM Act!!!

Cora Cervantes said...


As of late evening Nov 4th, I cannot stop grinning.
The road ahead will not be as smooth as we would like it to be; however, I do see a change in policy -- and i can see many of our statuses changing from AB540 student , or intern to student and employee :)

yey!! Si Se Pudo!!