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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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Chapter Five

Chicana/o Movement and the Undocumented Youth Movement


Social Activism and Defining “Undocumented and Unafraid” … “After years of feeling powerless, feeling ashamed, and feeling afraid and to see people who have that courage and conviction to do something”

Reflections from the Milwaukee YA BASTA rally: Babies. Two girl siblings clasping each other as they muster up the courage to speak into the microphone. The little one is 9 and the older one is 13. The older wipes her tears away and relaxes her shoulders, exhales all her fears out as she prepares to speak to a crowd of 100 people standing in front of her. The four o’clock sun beams in her eyes as she squints for relief. She speaks with compassion as she details how her father was preparing to drop them off at school when the police officer stopped him on his way out of the garage. She said, “I knew what was about to happen but I had to be strong for my little siblings who were still in the car waiting for him.” The police detained him and he was processed for deportation. These babies were pleading for their father to come back, a father who, according to his daughters, “always taught us to be proud of who we are, to not be ashamed of where we come from, and supported our studies and our mother.” This day allowed each family, one by one, to give voice to the impact, the emotional blow, and the chaos that caused these families...

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