There is a risk of facing deportation for each undocumented student that comes out in the public. Thus, many undocumented students are in fear of coming out and sharing their stories. Although I understand how hard and difficult it is to come out. Still, I encourage undocumented students who are hesitant to take courage and have leap of faith to come out and be active in our community to bring about social change.
Whether we come out in public or not, a greater risk is silence of the face of oppression and losing our own voice. Not everyone needs to publicly come out, but each student could still be active and participate in the movement in many ways.
At first, I was unsure about speaking out, but I knew sitting at home would not adjust my status. So I decided to come out and get active in my community. With determination, I have spoken to my peers and community members about the immigration issue. I initiated mini workshops, conferences, and held rallies and events to educate people on AB540 and the DREAM Act. I knew there was a risk in speaking, but I also knew that I could encourage other undocumented students to participate in the movement. I also realized that the more I become active in our community, the more support I was getting from my peers and my community. Eventually, with their amazing support, I was able to transfer from Laney Community College to UC Berkeley.
Some undocumented students are skeptical about collective action and making huge changes from the community level. “We can do nothing about it,” one of my friends told me. “Only politicians can pass the DREAM Act. So it’s just a waste of time.” But the truth is, the movement has done incredible work to pass and preserve AB540, pressure politicians to introduce the DREAM Act multiple times, and importantly halt student deportation cases every year.
There are so many things that we can do, and must do, in order to build up our efforts to pass the DREAM Act and fix our broken immigration system. What’s more, undocumented students who come out and get active in the movement also come out with many skills, new relationships and experiences. To give a few examples, a student could gain public support and resources from their community and build a network within that community. Getting involved in a community not only builds a community’s support for each other, but also help each to take collective action toward our common goals. With that being said, before it’s too late, we must act now.