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Identity, Social Activism, and the Pursuit of Higher Education

The Journey Stories of Undocumented and Unafraid Community Activists

Series:

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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Chapter Two

Activistas de Immigración

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Undocumented Journey– Stories of Migration, Family, and Schooling: Participant Profiles

I gently tugged on the white cord of my earbuds to release them from my ear cavity and stretch my arms above my head as my hands met in a prayer pose, trying to relieve my body of tension and exhaustion from sitting on my white wooden chair while conducting two back-to-back Skype interviews with participants in my identity study. I let my arms dangle, relaxed my shoulders, and breathed slowly and deeply as I reflected on the past few months of data collection. I stared at my pages of inked notes while I thought back to their journey-stories and muttered the words “too much” under my breath. As young children, had they seen too much? Have we asked them to grow up too fast as they face their lived realities as undocumented immigrants? The background of a journey-story often depicts the people and possessions that were left behind. I feel that these participants bear the heavy burden of carrying the hopes of others along with the pain that was endured during the crossing. They all left a familiar territory, language, and family for a promised better life. Yet, it was during their transition into the U.S. without legal status that they may have witnessed pain and trauma. I inhaled deeply, grabbed the purple ink pen, and wrote the question, “How much struggle and pain can one human endure before they can no longer endure?”

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