By Justin Valas

One thing that we have [sadly] gotten used to as organizers is that sometimes, the voices of the undocumented are overlooked, ignored or misrepresented. That’s part of why we, as the NC Dream Team exist. Take, for example, September 6th, 2011.

Seven undocumented youth from across the state came out of the shadows, dropped the fear and disclosed their immigration status in a very public way. Listening to their stories and their reasons for taking this brave action painted a complex picture of the harsh reality that faces undocumented immigrants in North Carolina and around the country. They came out decrying a community college system that throws undocumented youth to the back of the bus- if not under it. Charging them four times the tuition rate [regardless of their ability to show high school diplomas or tax records that would provide in-state tuition for their documented and citizen peers] while demanding that they scavenge through the post-registration leftovers. They also called out policies and programs that blur the line between local police officers and federal immigration agents- 287g and “Secure” Communities.

It’s a shame that the complexity of the reality that they tried to expose proved too complex. Many in the media referred to the act of civil disobedience as a “DREAM Act Rally”. Potential allies looked at what happened and saw it as a chance to express their solidarity with the passage of the DREAM Act.

Don’t get me wrong- we’re not opposing the DREAM Act. Believe me, we’re not. But the reason I bring this up is because listening – really listening – to the voices of these brave youth is important. They are trying to expose their reality, the reality that we all live in- consciously or not. It is a reality that our government pursues most intensely when no one is watching.

I bring this up now because the same day that these youth undertook this action, they met another undocumented person who was caught up by the same policies they were fighting against. Javier Santos was not surrounded by hundreds of supporters at the time of his arrest. He was unceremoniously picked up by the police dragnet and received very different treatment from the youth arrested that day. While they are free today, Javier continues to sit in a detention center awaiting deportation. ICE kept him separate from his wife and children while his wife brought their third daughter into the world. He has been unable to provide for his family for the past month because of these community destroying policies. All this while President Obama claims that “low priority” cases [like Javier’s] would not face deportation.

It is this reality that the undocumented youth were calling your attention to. It is Javier who needs your support and attention as much as they needed it on September 6th. Please, take action today to help bring Javier home to his family. Signing this petition is important. Making the phone calls is important. Combined, they will take less than 5 minutes of your day. You can help this father see his newborn daughter for the first time- will you?

Advertisements