Photo by Chris Ryan
While the debate in Congress over “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” continues, undocumented youth have continued to take bold steps, showing they are unafraid, unashamed and that they and their families belong in their new home, the United States. Since the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, there has been no concrete legislation addressing the need for citizenship for people who, for whatever circumstance, have come to the United States to seek a better life for themselves and their family. Like any presidential candidate, Barack Obama campaign promised more than he could deliver when he promised Immigration Reform during his 2008 campaign. Quite the opposite of supporting immigrant rights, during Obama’s tenure the United States has deported more people than any previous administration -- 1.7 million within six years. Our country averages over 1,000 deportations each day, including hundreds of deportations in Franklin County each year. Obama again made Immigration Reform central to his 2012 presidential campaign. The bill that finally emerged and is currently being debated is heavily focused on border security while making the path to citizenship strenuously long and costly. Throughout this process, record high deportations continue every day. While most Democrats, progressives and non-profit organizations have flocked to pass this immigration bill, a more radical group of undocumented youth began taking matters into their own hands to address deportations and separation of families. Two months ago, a group of nine DREAMers (youths eligible for the DREAM Act; a 2001 bill seeking to provide citizenship for undocumented youth) calling themselves the “Dream9” publicly crossed the border from Mexico into Arizona seeking humanitarian asylum. They were immediately detained, spawning a massive national outcry for their release. After three weeks and hundreds of thousands of petition signatures and phone calls, all nine were released. Instead of taking the asylum of nine DREAMers as a win, Dream Activist and the National Immigrant Youth Alliance (the NIYA) came back for round two, this time with over 30 immigrants. Among the “Dream30” are three from Columbus. Just recently, two were released, a fifteen year old boy and his mother. The third still waits with the 20 or more others still in detention. They all need our support, solidarity, phone calls, and petition signatures to return home. Please “Like” the Facebook page “OHIO in Solidarity with the Dream34” to become involved. Among the Dream9 was Marco Saavedra, a Kenyon College graduate, artist and nationally known immigrant rights activist/organizer. Marco made Ohio his home for five years before returning to New York City to be with his family. Saavedra shares his story through his words and his artwork in an exhibit currently on display showcasing his artwork at the EASE Gallery, 30 W. Woodruff Avenue, Columbus