LatinaLista — No one ever said fighting for justice or human rights is easy. The problem is that, compared to the total U.S. population, only a smattering of people have ever actually fought for these issues.
Aside from marching in the streets, waving protest signs or calling Congressional offices there is a lot more personal sacrifice involved than what most people know. This is especially true for those who have fought on behalf of undocumented students for passage of the DREAM Act.
Kyle, DREAM Act activist
One particular fighter is a student named Kyle. He grew up in Guatemala but is American by birth and heritage. He’s not undocumented but Kyle is one of those compassionate and passionate young people who gets impatient with injustice.
Kyle has been organizing, blogging, traveling and paying out of his own pocket for expenses incurred during this fight.
In essence, he has been juggling two jobs all this time — going to school and fighting on behalf of undocumented students. As hope for passage of the DREAM Act rests on one last opportunity, Kyle has reached the point, as anyone who commits all they have to something, where he’s feeling burnt out.
Yet, he struggles to go on, as many students and civil rights activists do who have been fighting for a cause that is too important to abandon but emotionally and physically draining.
In a piece that he wrote for his blog Citizen Orange, Kyle frankly expresses his feelings of exhaustion, hopes and fears.
Suffering from DREAM Act Burnout? Read This!
I’m going to confess something I probably shouldn’t in the lead of this post: I’m burnt out. I’ve been fighting for migrant rights ever since I almost gave my life for this fight five years ago. I’ve been fighting for migrant youth exclusively for almost three years, now, and for the last six months I’ve been putting more than every resource I have, mental and physical, into trying to pass the DREAM Act through my efforts in Maine.
I’m not even undocumented, and I can’t even begin to imagine how the undocumented youth I fight alongside are able to do all this.
After all of this fighting, I recently had the privilege of living through what will always be one of the greatest moments of my life.
There aren’t enough words to describe how I felt when I witnessed the release of Selvin ArÃ©valo back to his community in Maine after he was detained for seven months. I was told both by leaders in Washington D.C., across the nation, and locally in Maine, that it shouldn’t or couldn’t be done, or even worse that it didn’t matter.
I can’t even begin to convey the ups and downs of fighting for Selvin over the last six months. If I had to name the single most beautiful thing about releasing Selvin it was that it filled a hole in a community that Immigration and Customs Enforcement had torn apart.
It doesn’t seem like much when you write it out like that but when you’ve come to intimately know his family members and friends as I have, you know how much that means.
There’s still much to be done for Selvin, but I’m happy to say that I was a small part of giving him and his community the power to fight for themselves. If we hadn’t been able to release Selvin, it very well might have been the death of a budding migrant youth movement in Maine. Now, we’ve shown our power in a state where there are two key Senate votes for the DREAM Act.
Still, to get back to the point of my post, after celebrating Selvin’s release and organizing the first coming out event for undocumented youth in Maine’s history, I was and am still burnt out. The worst part, and again I probably shouldn’t admit this publicly, is that my soul felt like our best chance at the DREAM Act was already behind us, that I had already lived through the climax of our success.
My brain didn’t want to admit it, but it’s what my heart felt. Democrats had promised everyone and their mother something in the lame-duck session. While I expected a half-hearted attempt at getting the DREAM Act passed, I didn’t feel we’d get a better shot then the one we already had.
Nancy Pelosi announced her support for voting on the DREAM Act in the House, but I still felt this way. Barack Obama announced his support for moving the the DREAM Act, but I still felt this way. It wasn’t until four brave undocumented youth put their lives on the line, yet again, in John McCain’s office that something in my heart began to stir. That evening, everything in my heart changed when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said that he would bring up the DREAM Act as a standalone bill.
For those not immersed in this fight, the nuance of Reid’s announcement might not seem that important. I knew though, from the reaction of wavering Senators last time, that Reid’s decision to use valuable floor time in the lame-duck session for a vote on a standalone DREAM Act was our best shot at getting the votes we needed.
I’m still burnt out.
If you’re not sure where to put your energy, I would say put everything you have into moving Democrat and Republican Senators who are on the fence. I don’t have to put out confidential lists of those Senators because fortunately, the leader of the nativist noise machine Michelle Malkin, is doing much of our whip count for us.
Here’s her latest on wavering Democrats:
If you’ve got any gas left in your tank, do everything in your power to move the above Senators. Call, yes, but do more than that if you can.
If you can drive up to Maine with me this weekend to help me move Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, I can use all the help I can get. If you can’t, I’d appreciate you throwing some money my way so I can put gas in my tank to bring others up to Maine.
Like I said I’ve only got $4.57 in my bank account. Let’s do this herman@s. We got this.