LatinaLista -- The Trail of DREAMs walkers, otherwise known as Gaby Pacheco, Felipe Matos, Carlos Roa and Juan Rodriguez, a group of undocumented students who started their 1,500-mile trek on January 1, 2010 from Miami, FL to Washington, DC to call attention to immigration reform, are getting closer to crossing their Finish Line on May 1.
Miami-based Trail of DREAMs walkers: (L-R) Carlos Roa, Juan Rodriguez, Gaby Pacheco and Felipe Matos.
However, this evening between 6-6:30 p.m., the group arrives in Alexandria, Virginia where a community-sponsored bienvenidos bash is planned at the Tenants & Workers United on Mount Vernon Ave.
It's been a long journey for these four young students, who braved public acknowledgement of their citizenship status to get Congress to recognize the need for immigration reform and passage of the DREAM Act. Yet, from the sound of their blog posts it's been a worthwhile trip on several levels.
One of the reasons why is because it has been an inspiration to so many students who are in their same shoes and feel the same fear, embarrassment, frustration and uncertainty of what will the government, of the only country they know as home, will do with them.
In fact, these young walkers were so inspirational that another group of young adults, this one from New York City, decided to march to Washington, D.C. as well. On Saturday April 10th, five young adults, either undocumented or born in the U.S. of undocumented parents, left New York City to start their own 250-mile journey. Their names are Daniela Hidalgo, Martin Lopez, Marisol Ramos, Jose Luis Zacatelco and Gabriel Martinez.
Though Washington, D.C. is the final destination, it doesn't mean their work is finished yet.
Starting tonight with the Welcome party in Alexandria, the Trail of DREAMs walkers is on a whirlwind schedule of events: Tuesday: Georgetown; Wednesday: press conference at the National Press Club in DC and a walk over to the White House to deliver a special message to Obama; Thursday: DREAM Act National Lobby Day; Friday is a free day and one to prepare for Saturday's big march.
Though each day is significant leading up to the march on May 1, the most emotional day may be Wednesday when the students ask Obama to "institute an executive action that will stop detentions and deportations of students for a period of two years, and halt removal proceedings for individuals with immediate family members who are U.S. citizens..."
Some in Congress have already heard the Trail of DREAMs request. Last week, Senators Durbin and Lugar sent a letter to the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, asking her to halt deportations of undocumented students.
Not surprisingly, no word yet.
But in light of the Arizona SB 1070 bill that was signed last week by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, Sec. Napolitano and President Obama will be forced to respond to the students' request.
"Our dream is the opportunity to fully participate in and give back to the only country we know as home, and not live in constant fear that we will be sent away," said Felipe Matos, an immigrant student part of the Trail of DREAMs. "We have been waiting for years to speak up about our situation as immigrant students. President Obama, we cannot wait any longer."
(Editor's Note: A Facebook page has been set up with details of Saturday's march in Washington, DC for anyone who would like to join in the final leg of the Trail of DREAMs walkers' journey.)