Tuesday, September 21, 2010, is a day I will not be able to easily forget. It was hard not to be nervous, for my future was being determined by the U.S. Senate as they voted on whether to take up the discussion of the defense authorization bill with the DREAM Act as one of the amendments. I recall, while I was watching the whole thing live on C-SPAN, my heart was pounding so rapidly it almost felt like it was going to pop out of my chest. I could not breathe as I watched the nerve-wracking vote count that resulted in 56 NAYs and 43 YEAs. There would be no discussion.
My immediate reaction? I was numb, and then I was in denial. It took me until late at night for the reality sink in. I was so frustrated and angry that my life, my future and my dreams, along with a million of my DREAMers, were to be voted on. For these senators, it was simply a vote, but for us, it was our lives. For whatever reasons, those who voted against did not even want to discuss the bill with DREAM Act as an amendment. They simply did not give our DREAMs a chance. I could not control the tears that fell from my sense of desperation.
However, it did not take me too long before I came out of the sorrows. I buried my hopelessness with my tears and picked myself up again. A late night chat with a good friend of mine uplifted my mood and spirits once again. Then, I realized and was awed by the history we created within a few days before this vote.
Supporters of the DREAM Act showed strength in unity by mobilizing and organizing – press conferences were held, phone banking parties were everywhere, university leaders were writing letters of support, faxes and emails were sent, newspapers were writing about our cause and the number of tweets and Facebook updates was incredible. In other words, DREAM Act was HOT and ON FIRE.
Sonia Guinansaca, an organizer with the New York State Youth Leadership Council stated that in just a week, DREAM Act supporters made over 25,000 phone calls to the senators’ offices to urge their support. She states, “At first we had, for every one call, 10 calls against [the DREAM Act], but toward the end it was one to one.” Not only the phone calls, but the accumulations of actions, events and the momentum we have created for the DREAM Act created a new chapter in our history where the youth and students were at the forefront directly mobilizing and acting for social change and justice.
The vote on Tuesday did not end our chapter with a sad ending. Instead, it opened up a new one. It made us stronger. It allowed us to see and prove what we could do. It gave us strength by allowing us to see our potential. It made us hold onto our dreams dearer to our hearts. Tuesday’s vote signified to me that the United States Declaration of Independence of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is not to be taken for granted. We must fight harder and stronger to win our rights in this country. But, one thing for sure is that when our dreams come true, we will cherish it so much more because we will know deep inside that we have fought so hard for our dreams to become a reality.