Thanks all who attended Saturday's Campus Community Hearing on the DREAM Act. For those who were unable to make it, we offer two recaps.
Recap 1: In an otherwise quiet Saturday morning on the eve of Winter Quarter finals, students and community members joined IDEAS at UCLA for a hearing on the history and future of the DREAM Act as a legislative battle, and of Dreamers, the undocumented potential beneficiaries of this legislation, as an important part of our cultural fabric. Undocumented students from Mexico, Argentina, and South Korea told their stories, speakers from Congressman Howard Berman's office, NILC, CHIRLA, the LA Archdiocese, and MALDEF offered their insight, and all attendees participated in breakout sessions where they signed "Commitment to Action" forms to help in the battle for the DREAM Act and immigrant rights.
Recap 2: During a hearing on immigrant rights, the largest lecture hall at UCLA was filled with sighs and tears as Kevin, a 12-year old U.S. citizen, read his own story of why this country needs better, more just, and more humane immigration policies, including the DREAM Act. Unable to summarize the letter with justice, we offer it here in its entirety.
Dear Mr. President Barack Obama,
Hello, my name is Kevin, a 12 year old American citizen, and I wish to express myself to you. My father, Wilber Prada, was deported on September 27, 2007. Until that date, my life was great, fun, happy, radiant with love for family. My father had crossed the border escaping the terrorist-infested Peru in the early 1990s. He came to America, pleading for the political-Asylum that America was offering for fleeing Peruvians. Unfortunately, his case was denied. He later appealed in 2000, again pleading for a citizenship for my family. By this time, he had a business in gardening, working Monday through Saturday. He was the greatest father I could ever ask for, always being there for me, and loving me so much, and teaching me my favorite sport soccer. We weren’t different from any other “American” family, and had the greatest life until he was deported.
The day he was deported was the WORST, SADDEST DAY OF MY LIFE. I couldn’t stop crying for days, just missing him even more everyday, getting worse and worse. I couldn’t go to school because I couldn’t concentrate on my work, only on my dad. My grades dropped so much, and I couldn’t tell my friends because they wouldn’t understand. I only had my mom, brother, and a great, enthusiastic teacher. My mother was also like me but worse. Even now, she still cries and still sad about what happened. Same with my brother. Luckily, time passed, and my teacher noticed. She cried and gave us love when she knew what had happened. It was a shame for the INS to take 17 years to say NO, even after my father established friendships, a business, and a home. He always paid his taxes to the IRS, and was a great man to know. When they took my dad, some said if it was so bad, why does the whole family not go to Peru with him? Well, that didn’t make sense to me, when I had also established friends, family, and school, love. It was a disgrace to hear that, when we were like any other family trying to survive in this nation.
My father was arrested like a criminal, as if he had done something like killing someone, or robbing a bank. My father has lived in the US for more than 17 years, a very long time, and after all of that, he was denied?
PLEASE, I write to you wishing for what you have promised, CHANGE. I would like to have my dad back with me, IN AMERICA. I would like for my hard-working family to have citizenship, and to be here without being scared of being caught by some sort of homeland security. My brother is an AB540 student, and studying at UCLA for 4 years. I would also like to ask you to give him and all the undocumented students citizenship, by passing the DREAM act. My mother has her own house-cleaning business she owns to feed us. I would also like her to have citizenship, when she is volunteering teaching Spanish at my school, taking me to karate everyday, and working everyday. Please, Give My Father FREEDOM. GIVE my Family FREEDOM. I WANT CHANGE NOW!
PLEASE, PLEASE, Please, reply to my letter, and remember when you were not raised with your father, just like me. You suffered a lot, and now im suffering the same. Please help me, and respond back to me.