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Identity, Social Activism, and the Pursuit of Higher Education

The Journey Stories of Undocumented and Unafraid Community Activists


Susana M. Muñoz

The topic of immigration has become increasingly volatile in U.S. society, and undocumented college students play a central role in mobilizing and politicizing a critical mass of activists to push forth a pro-immigration agenda, in particular the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. The DREAM Act is the only federal legislation that would grant conditional citizenship and some financial aid assistance to undocumented students who have completed two years of college or enlist in military service. Since the DREAM Act failed to pass, undocumented students have moved from peaceful marches to acts of civil disobedience, seeking to disrupt the public discourse that positions undocumented students as living in the shadows of our system. Undocumented college students have created public forums in which they «come out» from these invisible images and pronounce themselves as «undocumented and unafraid».
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Words cannot express the gratitude that I hold for the many individuals in my life who made writing this book possible. First and foremost, I am forever indebted to the community activists who participated in this project. Your stories, your lives, your wisdom, your activism have gripped my heart, my spirit, and my consciousness. I am a different scholar because of your work and the lives you lead. You all truly embody virtues of beauty, justice, and empowerment, which have inspired a nation to act.

Over a year ago, after my AERA conference presentation, Yolanda Medina from Peter Lang approached me about the possibility of writing this book. I was terrified at the thought of tackling such a monumental feat as an untenured professor. Thank you, Yolanda, for your unwavering support and advice. You have helped me in ways in which you will never know.

I am grateful to have a group of academic mentors who always make time to lend their wisdom and advocate on my behalf. Thank you to Drs. William Perez, Laura Rendón, Marybeth Gasman, Stella Flores, Robert Teranishi, Nana Osei-Kofi, Rene Antrop-Gonzalez, Larry ← xv | xvi → Ebbers, Kristen Renn, Dafina-Lazarus Stewart, and Cecilia Rios Aguilar. The book process did not come to fruition without a healthy dose of self-doubt, anxiety, and stress but I am thankful for a group of academic women who I have the pleasure of calling my “sistah-scholars.” To my fabulous sistah-scholars, Dras. Michelle Espino, Judy Marquez...

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