Thursday, May 21, 2009

A DREAMer Meets Joe Biden

Kevin Johnson reported earlier today on the Harvard University President Drew Faust's endorsement of the DREAM Act. Here's an account of a DREAM Act student who had a chance to speak with Vice President Joe Biden recently:

"Mr. Vice-President!" I almost shouted. I then went into automatic pilot, as if I've done this a million times over. I stated the issue, gave some numbers and economic stats, and then talked about my own peers at UCLA. I disclosed my efforts as a leader on the issue and also as an advocate for issues students care about as the Southern California Regional Director of the California College Democrats. I was in the process of asking him "the question" when he stopped me mid-sentence. "The answer is YES," he stated. I responded by saying that I knew he was a supporter of the DREAM Act when he was a Senator and was well aware that Obama was a co-sponsor at one point, but that my question was more of a when and how.

He began to talk about his background to the group. He said that with an Irish Catholic background he understood that immigrants of the past came to this country due to religious persecution and that now, we are looking at a surge of immigrants because of economic dislocation. He said, "No one comes to this country leaving their family, culture and everything they own, only to be hated and treated poorly here, they come for jobs. It's a matter of survival."

He then went on to talk about the importance of international relations, decreasing poverty abroad, etc. He gave the group the big picture. He then came back to specifics. "If it were up to me and Barack, we'd have something out by the end of year. We hope to."

It was the answer I expected. I don't know what else I could have gotten out of it, and I must admit, I may have romanticized the situation through my own anticipation and thus felt disappointed. As he was walking away, I decided to approach him and pull him aside. I asked him if I was allowed to give him anything and he said he didn't see why not. So I handed him a copy of Underground Undergrads (I had previously written a personal note in it), a letter from Kevin Prada and a Support the Dream Act button. I explained a bit of what they were, and he promised to read them on the plane back home. I hope he did.

He then asked me to thank everyone who was doing this work, for putting it on the radar. "Thank you so much for the work you do, really. Thank you" Feeling a bit better, I walked away wondering about how that meeting could have possibly contributed to the movement.

(A few hours later at UCLA, I found out one of our IDEAS members' sister had gotten deported that day. She is 17.)

I know this meeting is one of those once in a lifetime moments you take with you your whole life. It's not everyday a Dreamer gets the chance to speak directly with people like our Vice-President. I hope it inspires people to know that at least I had a seat at the table that one time, for one hour and that he listened and he cared -- it was a true honor to have met Vice-President Joe Biden. Click here for the full blog entry.

We need the DREAM Act!


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