Today’s guest blogger is Marco, a DREAMer. He serves as a peer minister for Canterbury-Kenyon and enjoys prayer, poetry, and painting.
To become an undocumented immigrant requires very little, yet is a result of tremendous social, economic, political and environmental forces. I offer my story as an example.
My family had been farmers for millennia – ever since first setting foot on this continent. We had settled in a small village (San Miguel Ahuhuititlan) located in the rugged southern state of Oaxaca where the Sierra Madre Sur and Sierra Madre Oaxaca – the unconnected southern spine of the Rocky Mountains – unite.
This place, until recently, spoke mainly mixteco, the native dialect, and possessed little in roads, potable water and houses with more than a dirt floor, save for the Catholic Church at the center of town. The church and the villager’s last names – for only those that fled to higher uplands were able to keep their native family names – are vestiges of Spanish colonization. My ancestors remained in that village through the fall of the Spanish Empire and Mexico’s first hundred years as a sovereign nation.
I was born on a cold January day, on the dirt floor of my grandmother’s house, where only Nana was present to aid my mother in the delivery. Lacking any soap with which to wash me, my mother laid me on her lap to avoid the ants which would’ve been attracted to our blood.
Two years later my parents would leave for America, leaving me and my older sister behind to be under the care of our maternal grandparents. In an act of daring faith and unrequited love, they decided to leave behind all that was dear to them for the future of their family. A year of separation proved too much however, and eventually my parents thought it best to have their family united in America with some hope of an education and decent living rather than in Mexico where life was increasingly grim.
My story is not unique. Stories of economic displacement, political asylum, and spiritual refuge are particular to thousands of brave souls who have made the difficult, yet hopeful journey to America.
The youngest of these sojourners are now organizing around, and risking their lives for the DREAM Act – a proposal that would provide temporary legal residence to undocumented youth who came to this nation as minors, have resided in America for five continuous years, possess good moral character with no criminal record and have graduated from high school or the equivalent. Having met these initial requirements, recipients would have ten years of conditional legal status to complete two years of military service or college to earn permanent legal residence.
Nearly a decade has passed since the bipartisan bill was initially proposed, without much success. Yet, we DREAMers continue to believe in what one of the greatest Americans, Martin Luther King Jr. said during another time of inequality: the arc of the moral universe is long but bends towards justice.
My friends and I recently held an interfaith fast at Kenyon College to raise awareness in solidarity with the ongoing three week hunger strike begun by Texas Dream Activists. And now, this week the DREAM Act will be voted on. We believe the time has come for us to be out of the shadows.
Millions of Christians this advent season remember the sacred, but difficult immigrant journey of Mary, and Joseph; and the hope that Jesus continues to bring to the thousands of migrants, like my family, who cross the Sonoran Desert into the United States every year with nothing but ganas, humility and dreams in the hope of building new lives, and contributing to this wonderful country.
In passing the Dream Act, we have the opportunity to live out a shared value in all religious traditions – welcoming the stranger, so that the DREAMers can become welcomed leaders this country will be proud to have embraced.
The content of this blog reflects the views of its author and does not necessarily reflect the views of either Eboo Patel or the Interfaith Youth Core.