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I was invited, along with my friend Gaby Pacheco, to speak to 5th graders at the Georgetown Day School about the DREAM Act. I almost did not go but I can’t really say no to talking to young kids. Of course, I’m terrified of it as well — it isn’t anything I’ve ever done. Then again, I’ve never taken on the U.S. government either so I figure it cannot be that hard.
I had a great time. Gaby did most of the talking. She’s a natural teacher. I’m more of a lecturer and stood around looking good in a suit. The kids were fantastically engaging, with some of their parents in Congress or state legislatures.
A young woman asked us why we chose to act. I think both of us teared up a bit. Gaby did a great job answering that when someone beside you is getting hurt, you have to stand up and fight. And when that someone is you, I don’t think you really have a choice. I have already stated before that being a Dreamer is like being drafted into a war that you never wanted to fight but you have to do so to survive and protect your family from violence.
We met with one gorgeous young woman, whose father happens to be our very own Alejandro Mayorkas at USCIS, the guy whose the head of the office that sent me a letter to appear for removal proceedings. Mayorkas is one of the good guys. Last year, A. Mayorkas suggested in a draft memo that the President could grant deferred action to everyone who qualified for the DREAM Act. A right-winger got hold of the memo, sent it to more rabid anti-immigrant Senators who leaked it to the gullible media, who then helped to characterize the memo as a backdoor amnesty program. The rest is history.
Next month, we’ll meet with Mayorkas and the kids will ask him to once again push the President to grant deferred action to all DREAM Act-eligible students. I keep wondering how Mayorkas would feel if his kid was the one getting deported and despite having papers, there is nothing he could do for his child. It’s a terrifying thought but it is precisely what my mother is going through right now.
One clever young man appeared confused. He asked us why the President could not simply stop deporting all immigrants. It was a rather simple question and the answer is even more simple. But our President does not seem to fathom the simple concept that maybe we should not deport people who have done nothing wrong. I don’t know why children always seem so much smarter than adults. Maybe we regress with age instead of progressing.
It’s time to start hitting the rich private schools in the area and getting the kids informed about immigrant rights while they are young. They are certain to take it back to the dinner table and ask their parents: why are we deporting such talented, bright and productive young people from the country?
Theory of change. Get it.
- No Blanket Deferred Action for DREAM Act Students (prernalal.com)