There is a powerful photograph of a group of undocumented young people—DREAMers—lying in the sand in Miami, their joined bodies spelling out the words “DREAM ACT NOW”, as if hoping to be seen from the heavens.
“DREAMers” are just what they sound like: bright, hopeful, and optimistic young people. They came here as children and have spent most of their lives in the United States. Yet they have remained in legal limbo, with the specter of deportation hanging over their heads.
Among the DREAMers who are my neighbors are Gaby Pacheco, Carlos Roa, Felipe Matos, and Juan Rodriguez. In 2010, they walked 1,500 miles to Washington, D.C. to demand DREAM Act legislation that would halt the deportation of DREAMers, allow them to attend college, get drivers’ licenses and work permits. These four young people spent weeks walking across the United States because they were tired of living in the shadows, just like the 11.5 million undocumented immigrants who call this country home and have been waiting for comprehensive immigration reform to be passed so they can live out in the open and fully contribute to this society.
Earlier this year, the Obama Administration granted relief from deportation to between 800,000 and 1.7 million DREAMers and made it possible for them to try to find work and/or get an education. This new policy can be reversed at any time—especially by an administration that is hostile to immigration—and can leave DREAMers back in limbo, back in the sand.
Mitt Romney has said that he would veto the DREAM Act.
In November, my vote for President Obama will also be for the DREAMers who were brought here as children from all corners of the globe. I will be voting for President Obama, hoping that one day these DREAMers, and the rest of the 11.5 million who remain in immigration limbo, will also be able to cast their votes.
Edwidge Danticat was born in Haiti and moved to the United States when she was 12. She is a novelist and nonfiction writer.
This essay originally ran as part of 90 Days, 90 Reasons. For more essays, written by people such as Russell Simmons, Jamaica Kincaid, Edwidge Danticat and Majora Carter, go to 90days90reasons.com. Follow 90 Days, 90 Reasons on Twitter: https://twitter.com/90days90reasons Or like them on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/90days90reasons
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(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)