Keep the DREAM Alive for Immigrant Students

September 28, 2011

Nineteen year old Luisa Argueta can’t imagine a life anywhere else but in the United States.  She grew up in California after her mother Brenda, fleeing persecution in Guatemala, escaped there when Luisa was just 4 months old

On September 12th, Luisa and her mother were “ordered to report” for deportation to Guatemala after an immigration judge denied their asylum application. Just days before they had to start packing, the Department of Homeland Security granted a temporary respite until the end of Luisa’s school year in May 2012.  This may provide temporary relief, but they are still at great risk of losing their home, church, and community.

Passage of the DREAM Act, that provides conditional legal status to a select population of young immigrants, may be their only hope.

Luisa’s mother Brenda fled Guatemala when Luisa was four months old after the Guatemalan government and the guerrillas began persecuting union members, like Brenda. The family applied for asylum after arriving in the U.S. According to Luisa:

“The United States is the only place I know. I have no memories of Guatemala. I have all my family and friends here. It would be devastating if my mom and I should be deported. I have two younger U.S. Citizen sisters. Ana, who is 7 years old and the youngest, Daniela, who is 6 and has suffered from a rare blood disease…I don’t know what my dad and sisters would do if my mom and I were deported back to Guatemala.”

Luisa fears that without her mom, her sister Daniela will not get the medical care she needs. Keeping Luisa and Brenda in the U.S. is integral to care for the family – as Brenda is Daniela’s primary caregiver – and keep them unified. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of Homeland Security have repeatedly said they will not prioritize the removal of people like Luisa and Brenda. Yet, mother and daughter continue to face deportation.

Stand up for Luisa and “DREAMers” like her

Luisa, her mother and many other families are counting on you to urge legislators to support passage of the DREAM Act.  2.1 million undocumented minors in the US who arrived here as children, have grown up here, and consider the US home are at risk as more and more states enact draconian anti-immigrant legislation.

The DREAM Act focuses specifically on these young immigrants, providing them conditional legal status and an opportunity to permanently legalize their status in the US if they prove to have good moral character and complete two years of higher education or uniformed service, among other criteria.  All individuals have the human right to due process before deportation and cannot be arbitrarily separated from their families.

Ask Assistant Secretary for ICE John Morton to grant mother and daughter the opportunity to remain in the US. Then download Amnesty’s DREAM Act toolkit to see how you can do more in your state to demand that our senators vote “YES” on the DREAM Act.