Undocumented youth in the United States lack the status of legal citizenship. As children, they are accorded certain provisions and privileges that reduce due to their transition to adulthood. In his, The DREAMers: How the Undocumented Youth Movement Transformed the Immigrant, Walter Nicholls conducts an investigation of a youth movement that has revolutionized the immigration debate. The book does a great job of capturing the growth of activism as well as the dynamics of the DREAM Act. The objective of the Act is to support fairness and reward hard work which is enlightening on matters pertinent to social movements and undocumented immigrants. The paper will emphasize the key aspects that resulted in the instigation of the DREAMers movement.
The Reasons and the Ways of the DREAMers’ Emergence
The birth of the DREAMers dates back to the early 2000s when there was an influx of undocumented youth that faced problems pertinent to their status of being in-between countries. The DREAMers were normal individuals who schooled in the United States, watched television, and navigated fashions while they were younger (Nicholls 47). Therefore, although they were immigrants, they got absorbed into the American lifestyle and felt as they belonged to that culture. However, as the children were transitioning to adulthood, it hit them that they were treated differently from the Native Americans. It was evident in areas such as looking for a job, receiving a driver’s license, and applying for colleges. Therefore, this fact took away the dreams and hopes of many immigrants thus resulting in the birth of the DREAMers which encapsulated undocumented youth with common experiences. The DREAMers sought to use their movement as a structure that would gain the backing of powerful unions as well as rights association.
The DREAMers aimed to support the DREAM Act which would give young people the legal right to stay in the United States. The decision to fight for rights became a movement through the creating of a legal structure that served as a tool to convey the messages of the group. The official structure allowed the DREAMers to have their voices easily heard. This is how the movement that tended to be transformed from the threats to the nation to the sources of economic and civic rejuvenation was formed. Similarly, the DREAMers’ arguments were stressed on attributes such as cultural stimulation (Nicholls 49). For instance, to exhibit their patriotism, they brought in the Statute of Liberty to be part of their recent campaign. Such acts made the group earn support from the public. In addition, intensifying a campaign that features American cultural attributes is important in depicting American values. Moreover, the movement was premised on key values of fairness, self-determination as well as hard work (Nicholls 51).
Why the DREAMers Became an Independent Group
The DREAMers were seeking to become an independent group in order to establish a public identity with distinctive interests and solidarities (Nicholls 74). Furthermore, an independent group would be in a better position to have a powerful and compelling voice which would be useful in articulating their interests. Moreover, it was important for the process to have the prerogative to make decisions that would steer the direction of the immigrant rights movement. For this reason, it was important for DREAMers to digress from the traditional supporters and instigate strategies and methodologies that would advance their cause. It could have easily been achieved by an independent group. In addition, the DREAMers shared a common subjective as well as an emotional disposition which was imperative for an independent group.
Another aspect that was an impetus to the DREAMers being an independent group is the prevailing discrepancies and subordinations that stemmed from larger immigrant associations. Similarly, when the DREAMers was part of other immigrant association, it lacked power, position, and recognition which are crucial for any movement seeking validation. The discrepancies emerged when the DREAMers started to increase its scope and use its power. In addition, by being independent, the movement could have a better platform to inject life and resistance in a similar immigrant struggle (Nicholls 75). The DREAMers also felt that being a part of another movement will curtail their scope of operation since they would only operate as per the rules and guidelines of the umbrella movement. In fact, after the DREAMers became independent, they managed to instigate a struggle to win legal jurisdiction rights. That goal could not have been easily achieved in an immigrant rights movement. However, although the transition to an independent movement was not an easy task, it marked an important step in the evolution of the DREAMers as a political group (Nicholls 76).
Strategies and Messages that Made the Dreamers an Emerging Group
The DREAMers were struggling for equality and winning the residency status. Some of the strategies they used to achieve their goal was coming up with slogans such as ‘Undocumented and Unafraid.’ The other slogans were ‘I Exist’ and ‘Unapologetic.’ In fact, the slogans became prominent in their messaging with time. Other strategies used were engaging the leading politicians, lobbying senators and white house officials, and filling blogs and editorial pages. The actions were performed in order to gain the backing of powerful politicians and pressure the Senate to support the DREAM Act. Moreover, the DREAMers established networks that enabled the youth to connect and create their sense. For instance, after Obama’s victory, the DREAMers launched United We Dream (UWD) which was a network aimed at bringing together students from different parts of the United States. Such networks demonstrated a capacity for persistent and contentious collective action. It was been a successful strategy because it created a platform for the immigrants to come out and present their stories. Such platforms are important in putting their faces to their prevailing issues as they proclaim their undocumented status. Although the movement has limited resources and minimum infrastructure, it has been successful in coming up with contentious actions to ensure the DREAM is an important item on the congressional agenda. The DREAMers have also been consistent in their struggle for immigrants’ rights which makes the movement stand out. The impetus behind the strategies and messages is the fact that the DREAMers have plans to prosper like any other American child but their status does not allow. In this regard, the movement is premised on genuine concerns that are affecting their adult life.
Important Gains Achieved by the DREAMers
The DREAMers movement has been confronted with back and forth with Congress as the DREAM Act is yet to be approved through certain gains that have been achieved. An example is the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) which was ordered by President Barrack Obama (Nicholls 154). The Act has been important in preventing the deportation of undocumented immigrants and granting them work permits. In addition, the Act enhanced the provision of legal and political precedent for the immigrant rights movements. In this respect, the movement has successfully pressured Obama’s administration to stop the deportation of undocumented immigrants. In addition, it has defended against anti-immigrant state legislation.
At the state and local level, the movement has been successful in fostering new alliances and consolidating existing partnerships that revolve around pro-immigrant organizations. Similarly, the DREAMers have played a major role in mobilizing large groups of the undocumented immigrant population and encouraging it to take a more assertive stance (Nicholls 220). Consequently, youths and adults can now engage in acts such as blocking deportation buses and other civil disobedience actions. The DREAMers movement has been at the forefront of advocating for immigrant rights and being part of a unified and centralized movement. Moreover, the objective of the DREAMers movement has provided a channel for the immigrants to fight for their rights as well as social justice. In this regard, although the key objective of the DREAMers is yet to be attained, the voice of immigrants has been heard, and they have been awarded various perks in the quest of making their adult life bearable (Nicholls 120).
The DREAMers were undocumented immigrants demanding to be recognized as human beings who belonged in the country. In the midst of discrimination, undocumented immigrants received unfair treatment. Their status was sidelined in schools and workplaces when opening bank accounts or applying for a driving license. Nevertheless, the DREAMers have achieved important gains such as the DACA Act and being the voice of the undocumented population.