Would ICE deport Superman?
“Once, when I was seven, I fell asleep in Michoacán and woke in Boyle Heights. No joke. Now I am a bewildered 26-year-old undocumented college student, whose life may become a slightly less surreal dream if the DREAM Act ever passes, but only slightly less so,” Huerta writes.
Huerta describes the depression he underwent when he graduated high school in 2002.
“I was horribly depressed because all I had to look forward to in life was selling hot dogs, fruit and shaved ice in a cart my dad owned. Not to mention that a decade of internalized oppression and instilled fear of La Migra traumatized me,” Huerta recalls.
His situation improved somewhat with the passage of state Assembly Bill 540, which allows folks in his situation to pay in-state tuition at college if they are California high school graduates. And inspired by a young woman named Tam Tram, the first undocumented student he ever saw speaking out openly and unafraid, Huerta stopped feeling bad for himself and started to try and make the best of his situation.
This mental shift included finding undocumented students organizing for the DREAM Act.
“I share my story regularly with high school kids because I know my words will resonate with others who are undocumented and afraid,” Huerta concludes. “I let them know they’re not alone and that things will get better if they continue their education. Despite lack of legal status, no one can take away our education.”
Huerta’s words probably won’t stop the haters from leaving offensive comments on the blogs. But as more undocumented youth step forward, tell their stories and put faces on their otherwise shadowy figurres, it’s going to get harder to scapegoat them.
A recent report by the Center for Investigative Reporting suggests the Obama administration has been trying to look tough on immigration enforcement in the past two years, in an effort to appease Republican factions that have been hell-bent on blocking immigration reform. It's unclear whether personal stories by undocumented students will be able to transcend partisan politics and give undocumented youth a pathway to citizenship. But if they did, it would be the best gift the nation could give itself this holiday season.