Deferred Action In the news Meet a DREAMer

DREAM Team LA Speaks about DACA on the Lovett or Leave It Podcast

DREAM Team LA communications spokesperson, Rubi Martinez, was invited to speak on Jon Lovett’s weekly political podcast, Lovett or Leave It, sharing her story about being a DACA recipient and undocumented American. The podcast opens with Tom Morello and Chuck D of Prophets of Rage and includes the panel of comedian and television writers to break down the week’s events with in-depth analysis and humor, Brittani Nichols, Cord Jefferson, and Jake Fogelnest. Rubi joins the panel to discuss the uncertainty surrounding DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) under the Trump Administration.

The September 2, 2017 podcast is available on your favorite listening device selected from the Lovett or Leave It website.
Rubi’s DACA interview is at the 56′ mark.

In the news Meet a DREAMer

College Graduation 2017

Karen Zapien is the Chief Policy Analyst for DREAM Team Los Angeles. She was invited to speak at the DREAMer graduation commencement at California State University Fullerton where she graduated this year with a BA in Business Administration Accounting. These are her reflections.

I think about the traditional American university graduation ceremonies, the usual speeches, that I am beyond honored and genuinely happy to be part of such a strong, educated, and caring college community. That my education has opened doors I didn’t even know existed, and helped me view the world with a different perspective, and has given me the tools needed to excel. If I were “just” American my speech would be similar to that. But I am more than just American. I am an undocumented student Dreamer and my perspective, my experiences, are broader than the majority of my college peers.

As I look back, I realize that college, and life has been a really rough ride. A ride for me that began as a one-year-old in a car seat crossing the border with people who were not my parents. They would arrive later.

A rough college ride because of the financial burdens of our studies and supporting our families. We worked multiple jobs while being in school. And for us getting jobs meant going from door-to-door asking for work and being afraid to be asked for a green card.

We can all agree that nothing is attainable without a support system. For us that is our families. The study, the work, the exhaustion, the sleepless nights – a sleep deprived by the worry; will my parents be home when I return from school? My parents migrated to the USA in search for a better future for their children, just like everyone else. They didn’t want their children to work at the age of 6 or 7 like they did. I say it because day and night we still work twice as hard as anyone else.

I am currently protected a little by the Obama-era DACA program, but who knows what will happen with this. I have my permit to work, I am able to legally drive, and I am deferred against deportation. However, there is so much uncertainty with this current administration. I am in a limbo. I am ok. But I am not.

Whether you see your diploma as a ticket for financial success for your family or as kindling to burn down the system to replace it with something better, history will regard us as the generation who worked hard for full legalization of our parents.

My goal is always to contribute as much as I can to this country because I am very thankful to it for my education. I always thank my parents and this country. Pursuing my higher education has been the most extraordinary experiences of my entire life, as it must be for all graduating Dreamers. We defeated the odds. We broke stereotypes and barriers. I commend you all for being the change needed.

I have noticed a lot more graduates with extremely powerful messages about who they are, where they come from and much more. I think this has everything to do with the current stigma against Latinos in general. Messages on our graduation caps send a powerful message. For me “I am strong, I am able, I am Mexican”.

And we must all be strong because still more change is needed. Our college success is not only due to our parents but to systems put in place by the generation of undocumented students who came before us. The original DREAMers.

We are the first graduates who benefited from the fully implemented California Dream Act to provide financial aid for college. We are the first to have all University of California and California State University campuses have Dreamer Resource Centers. We are DACA graduates who can use our diplomas and enter the job market. Benefits we did not directly advocate for, benefits we did not take to the streets to risk our deportations for, but we are the generation of undocumented between decades of nothing for the immigrants before us and full immigration reform to come.

Let us remember that the financial aid we receive in California is not a substitute for economic justice in a nationwide system that profits from our labor and also profits from our incarceration. That the reality for our brother and sister graduates is very different outside of our state and we must work for them too.

I, with all of you, watched in terror when a DACAmented Dreamer was deported because he didn’t have his wallet on him. And I think to myself, I am surviving. I am alive. And being alive is just fine because it means that our graduation is not the finish line but the starting gun. To face an uncertain future in a nation that calls us criminals. To walk a path whose outcome we cannot see.

Whether you see your diploma as a ticket for financial success for your family or as kindling to burn down the system to replace it with something better, history will regard us as the generation who worked hard for full legalization of our parents. To continue the journey they handed to us who wanted something better for us. They wanted the American Dream.

I will remain optimistic and I will continue to work hard in anything I do. I have a lot of faith that great things are coming my way. Sooner or later they will realize that I am simple woman with NO criminal record that has only had straight A’s and contributes to this country.

Take all your fear as empowerment to stand against the stigma of our birth, remembering our fundamental values (respect, hard work, and family); the values that our abuelos and abuelas taught. Although there might be so much despair and uncertainty with the current administration, we need to remember that above all we are good hard working people.

To my fellow graduates of the class of 2017, I say this; do not give up, continue being a guerrero/guerrera. We are beautiful strong brown people with great work ethics and dedication. Continue to dream and to give back, you belong here, and you absolutely matter! Stay strong, keep moving forward, and work hard because like Emiliano Zapata once said, the soil, la tierra, belongs to those who work it.

Meet a DREAMer

On Being Queer, Undocumented and Unafraid

“What does being a queer have anything to do with the DREAM Act? Probably not the immediate meaning people want to see when they don’t immediately understand something. It’s about being part of a community that is constantly marginalized and finding strength in what others see as our weakness. It’s about finding a common ground and becoming a huge fist to punch the one bully we have in common. If you cannot see the connection, I don’t know what to tell you.” Folks know Julio Salgado for his art and being a member of dreamers adrift, but also for being, one of many, queer dreamers in the movement.

In October, Julio wrote for the Huffington Post on the intersectionalities between the immigrant rights movement and the gay/queer movements. “There have been sit-ins, hunger strikes and countless calls to lawmakers to stop the deportations of undocumented students who have been in this country most of their lives. Oddly enough, a movement within this movement has surfaced.”You see, a lot of the young people at the forefront of this movement also happen to be gay. Not only are these students proud to scream, “Undocumented and unafraid,” but some have challenged the status quo even further by coming out as queer, undocumented and unafraid.”