By Von Diaz
Originally published on Feet in Two Worlds on December 27, 2011
2011 may be best remembered for a new type of political activism. Movements including the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street were built on a combination of street protests and social media. The year also saw an outpouring of activism and support for undocumented immigrant youth, especially those who would benefit from the DREAM Act—a proposed federal law that would create a path to legal status for undocumented young people.
Here’s what happened in 2011:
DREAMers (undocumented youth) and their allies responded to the narrow failure of the DREAM Act in Congress at the end of 2010 by launching demonstrations, organizing nationwide groups using social media, getting arrested in civil disobedience actions, lobbying Congress and fighting for state-level DREAM legislation. States can’t offer citizenship, so state efforts are mainly aimed at easing hardships for undocumented college students. With Congress at an impasse over immigration reform, the movement decided to focus on individual states.
On March 10th, undocumented immigrant advocacy organizations launched National Coming Out of the Shadows day. In the months following this event hundreds of youth across the country revealed themselves as undocumented and participated in demonstrations and acts of civil disobedience in what many called a human rights campaign. Some undocumented youth were arrested while protesting—including six in Chicago, ten in North Carolina, five in Indiana, seven in Atlanta, and four in Arizona. In all of these cases the students were charged with civil disobedience for either blocking traffic or staging a sit-in at a government office.
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