The author of an influential book about Dreamers — undocumented immigrants who came to America as children — said Thursday that immigration politics obscure the deep human issues.
“When we talk about 11.5 milion people, what are their names? What are their faces?” asked Eileen Truax. “Can we start thinking about people?
She said many of the undocumented are American in every way — from language to educational background to outlook — yet can still be deported at a moment’s notice.
Truax, a journalist and immigrant from Mexico, spoke at the University of San Diego about the new English translation of her book “DREAMERS: An Immigrant Generation’s Fight for Their American Dream.”
The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors, or DREAM, Act was a bipartisan effort when it was introduced in 2001, but has yet to be passed. The bill would provide conditional permanent residency to immigrants who arrived as children and graduated from U.S. high schools.
Truax read from a section of her book describing the plight of Nancy Landa, a young woman from Los Angeles who was deported to Tijuana with only the clothes on her back. Landa had been raised in the United States and didn’t even speak Spanish. “How many pesos is a dollar? She didn’t even know that,” Truax said.
She said Dreamers are becoming more public and vocal because it lessens the chance they will be deported. Immigrants who have grown up as Americans understand that “you share your story in front of the media,” she explained.
California has helped the undocumented with drivers licenses and other protections, but Truax called these “band-aids” until Congress reforms immigration.
Of the estimated 11.5 million undocumented immigrants, some 2 million arrived as children and would be covered by the DREAM Act if passed. Truax said society will benefit if those young people become legal members of society and pay taxes.
The talk was sponsored by the university’s Trans-Border Institute. Director Everard Meade said in introducing Truax that the “political activism of the Dreamers is awe-inspiring.”
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