Award-winning journalist and Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman records a podcast in conjunction with her weekly column: http://www.democracynow.org/blog/category/weekly_column
June 21, 2012
By Amy Goodman with Denis Moynihan
Undocumented immigrants in the United States number around 12 million people, a group larger than the populations of most countries on the planet. Among those are as many as 800,000 young people who are now most likely eligible for limited legal status, thanks to executive action taken last week by President Barack Obama. In a Rose Garden speech, Obama said that he and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano were working “to mend our nation’s immigration policy, to make it more fair, more efficient and more just—specifically for certain young people sometimes called ‘Dreamers.’” Behind the speech was a movement for social change, built by millions, each with their own story.
The “Dreamers” are those who are here without legal documentation, often derogatively referred to as “illegals,” but who came to this country as children, in some cases as infants. As he said in his speech: “These are young people who study in our schools, they play in our neighborhoods, they’re friends with our kids, they pledge allegiance to our flag. They are Americans in their heart, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper.” For 10 years, people have pushed for an act of Congress to give these young people legal status, through a bill called the DREAM Act, short for the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act.
People in the movement don’t consider themselves “alien.” They call themselves “undocumented Americans.” One of those who stands to directly benefit from White House’s decision is Lorella Praeli, from New Haven, Conn., a member of the United We Dream national coordinating committee. She fought for passage of the Connecticut version of the DREAM Act. The bill was signed into law last year, making undocumented students eligible for in-state tuition at state colleges. Praeli is a 2011 graduate of Quinnipiac University, which she attended on a scholarship.
“I had a car accident when I was 2 and a half, which resulted in the amputation of my right leg,” she explained. “My family and I sought treatment at Shriners Hospital. So for many years, we spent time between Peru and Tampa, Fla., which is where the hospital is. When I was 10, my family decided to move to Connecticut. That’s how I ended up here.”
To read the rest of the column, visit: http://www.democracynow.org/blog/2012/6/21/a_movement_built_by_dreamers
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