July 20, 2010

Note: CNN reports on today's DC DREAM Act mobilization, in "Students Lobby to Become Citizens." The new DREAM Now letter series, which launched today, July 19th, 2010, will educate the public and our leaders in Washington about the urgent need to legalize qualified immigrant youth, who are Americans in all but paperwork. Please get involved by cross-posting DREAM Now letters to your blog, sharing them on facebook, or tweeting about them and including "@BarackObama" and "#dreamletters." While we have a very real shot at passing this critical legislation, we can't do this alone -- please do your part and help spread the word!


The "DREAM Now Series: Letters to Barack Obama" is a social media campaign that launched Monday, July 19, to underscore the  urgent need to pass the DREAM Act. The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, S. 729, would help tens of thousands of young people, American in all but paperwork, to earn legal status, provided they graduate from U.S. high schools, havegood moral character, and complete either two years of college or military service. With broader comprehensive immigration reform stuck in partisan gridlock, the time is now for the White House and Congress to step up and pass the DREAM Act!

The "DREAM Now" letter series is inspired by a similar campaign started by  the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network for the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell.  Every Monday and Wednesday DREAM-eligible youth will publish letters to the President, and each Friday there will be a DREAM wrap-up.  If you're interested in getting involved or posting these stories on your site, please email Kyle de Beausset at: kyle  at  citizenorange  dot  com.

The first letter:

President Barack H. Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
Washington, DC  20500

Dear Mr. President,

My name is Mohammad Abdollahi and I am an undocumented immigrant.  Two months ago I made history.   

On May 17, according to the New York Times, I become one of the first undocumented students, along with two others, to "have directly risked deportation in an effort to prompt Congress to  take up [the DREAM Act]."  Risking deportation was no small act for me.  Not only did I risk being forcibly removed from United States, the only country I know as my home, to Iran, where I don't know the culture  or the language.  I also happen to be gay.  In Iran, people like me are tortured and executed. I am still at risk of deportation and execution, right now, and I will continue to be at risk until the DREAM Act is passed. 

I took this risk because I had no choice.  For all of my life, my future has been held hostage by politicians, both Democrat and Republican, who have used me as a political football.  My family immigrated to the  United States from Iran when I was just three years old. Undocumented immigrants are often told, "get in line!" without knowing that many of us were at one point in this infamous line.  My family was "in line" until an immigration attorney miscalculated the processing fee for an H1-B visa by $20 dollars and our application was rejected.  The second attorney my family hired to fix the application spent his time bickering with the old attorney instead of informing my parents that they only had 60 days to appeal our rejected application.  The deadline came and went and we became undocumented. 

I've known I was undocumented for a long time, but I still graduated from high school.  While working to pay out-of-state tuition, I was able to earn my Associate's degreein Health and Human Services from Washtenaw College.  When I had enough credits, I applied to Eastern Michigan University.  I handed a counselor there my transcript and he said, "Mohammad, you are the kind of student we want at this university."  He then handed me an acceptance letter.  I was in.

I looked at this letter and thought of my mother. With this piece of paper, I could go to my mother and tell her that she didn't have to stay up late crying anymore.  She didn't have to blame herself anymore.  She hadn't done her children wrong by bringing them to this country. I could tell her it was all worth it. Then, the counselor brought back his  supervisor, who told me that they could not accept me because I "needed to be in a line to get in". The counselor then reached over his desk and took my acceptance letter from me.

I left. My future was being held hostage. A short time later, the DREAM Act came up for a vote in the Senate, and 44 other people decided that they  too were going to hold my future hostage. Three years later, my future and  the futures of over 2 million others are still being held hostage.  Two months ago, I risked my life because once again the window to my future is closing.  I am in limbo.  I cannot contribute to the only country I know as my home.  I also cannot return to Iran, where the penalty for homosexuality is capital punishment. 

My only hope is for the DREAM Act to pass, but time is running out in this Congress.  The DREAM Act has more support in the Senate than any other piece of immigration legislation, but it is being held hostage by Democrats who do not want to vote on it separately from comprehensive immigration  reform, and by Republicans who refuse to publicly support legislation they have supported before. 

I made history two months ago, and today, along with hundreds of other undocumented youth from across the nation, I will make history again.  Hundreds of us are descending on Washington D.C. to ask Congress to stop holding our lives hostage and to pass the DREAM Act now.  Please stand with us and ask Congress to pass the DREAM Act, now.

Mohammad Abdollahi

Approximately 65,000 undocumented youth graduate from U.S. high schools every year, who could benefit from passage of the DREAM Act.  Many undocumented youth are brought to the United States before  they can even remember much else, and some don't even realize their undocumented status until they have to get a driver's license, want to join the military, or apply to college. DREAM Act youth are American in every sense of the word -- except on paper.  It's been nearly a decade since the DREAM Act was first introduced.  If Congress does not act now, another generation of promising young graduates will be relegated to the shadows and blocked from giving back fully to our great nation.

This is what you can do right now to pass the DREAM Act:

  1. Sign the DREAM Act Petition
  2. Join the DREAM Act Facebook Cause
  3. Send a fax in support of the DREAM Act
  4. Email kyle at citizenorange dot com to get more involved

This post was cross-posted from Citizen Orange to America's VoiceBlue Mass. Group, Daily Kos, Docudharma, Open Left, Michigan Liberal, and Firedoglake.

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