2011 saw 11 major milestones for undocumented youth

By Gaby Pacheco
LatinaLista

The year 2011 was a year of recuperation. After the failure of the DREAM Act, immigrant youth across the country committed to continue fighting, even as many of them where exhausted from previous years of putting everything on the line.

Undocumented youth, who are high school graduates, are left in limbo without legislation allowing them to become citizens and contribute to the economy of the nation.

The year 2011 brought us 11 key events that will propel us to make big strides 2012 and beyond.

1- In February, United We Dream network, launched the Education Not Deportation Campaign, a national effort designed to stop the deportations of DREAM Act eligible youth and their families by pushing president Obama to use his executive power to grant administrative relief.

2- Through Education Not Deportation campaigns, DREAMer organizations and other allies, such as Interfaith Immigration Coalition, Change.org, Presente.org and America’s Voice helped stop the deportation of more than 50 individuals and families.

3- Due to the increasing pressure on the Administration and the Department of Homeland Security, John Morton released a memo in July outlining the use of prosecutorial discretion.

4- Immediately following that move, a new set of guidelines that allowed for the revision of 300,000 cases. This allowed people who fell under the “low” priority category an opportunity to ask for prosecutorial discretion.

5- The nation was startled when a Pulitzer Prize-winner, Jose Antonio Vargas, wrote a New York Times article in which he came out of the shadows and declared that he was undocumented.

6- Prior to the summer, the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild announced its partnership with United We Dream, DREAM Activist, E4FC, and National Immigration Law Center to offer pro-bono legal support for DREAM Act eligible youth.

7- Not all states introduced anti-immigrant legislation in 2011, some states not only introduced but passed education equity/in-state tuition laws; California, Illinois, Maryland and Rhode Island were among them.

8- Our student movement is growing and becoming a force to reckon with. In November, over 450 undocumented youth and allies met in Dallas, Texas to decide on its 2012 priorities.

9- After a couple of years of pushing media to stop using the derogatory word “illegal” The New York Times, Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, and the Society for Professional Journalists, responded with a pledge to drop the i-word.

10- The reign of terror Sheriff Joe Arpaio inflected on immigration communities, masking themselves under a program called 287g, came to an end. After many lawsuits and complaints, the Department of Homeland Security terminated Arpaio’s 287g agreement.

11- The last, but certainly not least positive event of 2011, is all the love and support our families, friends and community gave us. Because of that, we are grateful and know that through this love we will be strong!

Gaby Pacheco is an undocumented American and an immigrant rights leader from Miami, Florida. In 2010, she and three friends walked 1,500 miles to bring to light the plight of immigrants in this country. This walk was dubbed the Trail of DREAMs. Gaby is in the process of publishing two children’s books. She can be followed on Twitter.

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