Eager to voice their opinion and the desire to change the world, even Time Magazine declared “Person of the Year” none other than, the protester.
Salt Lake Dream Team members and siblings Bryan and Raymi Gutierrez shared their stories, struggles and thoughts on immigration laws in a panel on Jan. 25 to inform and educate the public on the DREAM Act.
Before they spoke, a video was shown to the audience in which Illinois Senator Richard Durbin expressed to his colleagues the need to pass the DREAM Act.
The DREAM Act is a piece of legislature that would provide residency to undocumented students who were brought to the U.S. before the age of 16. They also have to have lived here for at least five years, have no criminal background and either receive an Associate’s degree or volunteer to serve in the military for two years. It stands for development, relief and education for alien minors.
Bryan shared his story with the audience and told them how he came to the U.S. when he was just three years old and doesn’t know another place as home. Although it seemed he lived a life similar to many of his classmates, he was unsure about his future due to his legal status.
“Like a lot of [undocumented] students, I lived afraid,” Bryan said.
Bryan graduated from the University of Utah with two Bachelor’s degrees, yet his immigration status continues to be an obstacle for him and other dreamers.
Raymi was the first American citizen in her family. Out of nine children she was the first born in the U.S. She told the audience that at a difficult time in her and her family’s life she thought all she could do was have faith that the DREAM Act would be passed. When the DREAM Act didn’t pass by five votes she realized she needed to do something.
“It’s not enough to just sit back and hope… you have to be a part of it,” Raymi said.
Raymi is now part of the Campaign for an American DREAM in which five young activists were chosen from all over the country to walk a 3,000 mile journey from San Francisco to Washington in hopes of raising awareness and gaining support for the DREAM Act to be passed.
Bryan and Raymi are heavily involved with the Salt Lake Dream Team, an activist group that fights for immigrant rights. Bryan explained to the audience that immigrants don’t qualify for the same rights an American citizen would in most situations. He said that often immigrants are subject to harassment—sometimes rape—when detained or incarcerated, and they aren’t protected like an American citizen would be in those situations.
In addition to fighting for the rights of immigrants the SLDT provides a support system for undocumented individuals.
The primary goal of the SLDT is to raise awareness and gain support from many communities in favor of the DREAM Act to push it to legislature for another vote in hopes that it will finally be passed.
By Yvette Cruz