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Undocumented and Unafraid: Student Activists Explain Need for Immigration Reform

By Samantha Poston
On March 28, 2011

Many students have the privilege of living without worrying about of things like deportation. NEIU was privileged to get an inside glimpse into the lives of two young women, who aren't as fortunate in the presentation, "Undocumented and Unafraid". For many Chicagoans, living in fear of deportation, of leaving your home and friends behind, is a constant worry. This has been a situation that most undocumented people living in the United States face every day; deciding to finally come out of the shadows is a risk for everyone who finds themselves in this position.

These young people have organized rallies, sit-ins and hunger strikes to show the government that they will no longer be silent. At a young age, most of these undocumented youth they were taught to keep their identities quiet, not letting anyone know that they are not actual citizens. But these few people have chosen to share their identity with the world. The decision to become open about their situation has caused people around them to behave differently - some of them have even lost friends.

Some of these people have more limitations than others. For example, some don't even have identification or the basic necessities that most Americans have. They have all experienced positive and negative reactions, as a result of being honest about their identity. Some people's parents were ashamed and embarrassed about their children being arrested in sit-ins, while others share in the fight to gain equality.

The event shed light on the ills and hurdles that undocumented students face. The two young women who visited the campus wanted their identities to remain anonymous, but their stories told audience members everything they needed to know to become advocates of the undocumented youth movement. According to their testimonies, undocumented youth have made valiant efforts to change the conditions of their community. They are currently working on the process to become legal citizens; there is currently no way to do that. Proponents of the immigration reform movement are also currently fighting to get a bill passed in order to make things better for undocumented people.

Illinois State Dream Act is what they are trying to set in place for things such as helping High School counselors to help undocumented students with getting help in applying for college, obtaining drivers licenses for those who would like them, and the setup of private funding for scholarships that won't cost tax payers money. They organized a rally last year, which gathered over 1,200 people who were either undocumented, or supported undocumented people. The panelists shared their stories about their lives as undocumented people and about how they weren't afraid any longer.

For more information on coming events and rallies, visit the Immigrant Youth Justice League website at: http://

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