Dear Mr. President,
My name is Lizbeth Mateo and I am undocumented. On May 17th, on the 56th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, I, along with Mohammad Abdollahi, Yahaira Carrillo and two others, became the first undocumented students to risk deportation by staging a sit-in inside Senator McCain’s office in Tucson, Arizona, to demand the immediate passage of the DREAM Act. As a result of that sit-in we were arrested, turned over to ICE, and we now face deportation.
I came to this country when I was fourteen-years-old from Oaxaca, Mexico. It was the late nineties and Mexico was, and is still, facing one of the worst socio-economic and political periods in recent history. For my parents – a taxi driver and a stay-at-home-mom that were struggling to make ends meet- it was clear that they would have to choose between seeing their children starve and get sick, or risk it all, leave everything behind and relocate the family to Southern California with hopes of a better future. In 1998 we moved to Los Angeles and have lived here, since.
Their choice and sacrifice paid-off. I didn’t only become the first one in my family to graduate from high school, but a couple of years ago I became the first one in my family to graduate from college. I graduated from California State University, Northridge and I am currently in the process of applying to law school. My dream is to become an attorney and defend the most vulnerable in the courts of law.
Life as an undocumented student has not been easy, it’s been filled with tough choices and a lot of uncertainty. At one point I felt like the only way to fulfill my dream of higher education was to leave my family behind and go back to Mexico. But California had become my home and so I chose to stay despite the uncertain future ahead. Against all odds I enrolled in college, and it was there that I first learned about the DREAM Act. From the moment I heard about this piece of legislation I decided to work hard and advocate for its passage. It’s now been seven years since that day and the DREAM Act has yet to become a reality.
Despite overwhelming support, Congress has been unwilling to pass the DREAM Act. It is because of that inaction that earlier this year I had to decide whether committing civil disobedience would be worth the risk of being forcibly separated from my family, and deported to a place I no longer consider home. I made a choice, forced in part by the lack of courage from our leaders in Congress and inspired by your call to change, the “change [that] will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time.” Just as I had chosen to work on your campaign inspired by what you said, that “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek,” I also chose to face my fears, to risk it all, to seek that change, and sit-in so that the DREAM Act could stand alone.
Some say that destiny is not a matter of chances but one of choices. My life and that of my fellow Dreamers has been filled with tough choices, some made by us and some made by others on our behalf. Two months after five of us chose to risk it all for our futures, because we knew that without the DREAM Act we had no future, twenty-one others chose to risk it all for a dream that belongs to us as much as it belongs to our families, our communities, and our home – the United States of America.
I firmly believe that we have made the right choice – to stand up for what we believe in and to try to fulfill the promise of the great American Dream that brought us here in the first place. I firmly believe that we, the undocumented youth, are standing on the right side of history. Now I ask that you stand with us by making the right choice. Help us pass the DREAM Act immediately. Help us free our DREAMs, which have for too long been held hostage to political rhetoric and insensitive choices by a few that have yet to recognize the potential that we have as young, educated people.
Mr. President, staying strong and facing my challenges with courage and dignity while I wait patiently is no longer an option, it’s no longer a choice I can make because I played the last card I had, and my time is running out. I put my life on the line in order to have a chance at a future out of the shadows. Now the DREAM Act is the only chance I have to stay home. Please help us pass the DREAM Act so that no more youth have to risk it all by putting their lives on the line.
The “DREAM Now” letter series is inspired by a similar campaign started by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network for the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. The letters are produced by Kyle de Beausset at Citizen Orange with the assistance of America’s Voice. Every Monday and Wednesday DREAM-eligible youth will publish letters to the President, and each Friday there will be a DREAM Now recap.
Approximately 65,000 undocumented youth graduate from U.S. high schools every year, who could benefit from passage of the DREAM Act. Many undocumented youth are brought to the United States before they can even remember much else, and some don’t even realize their undocumented status until they have to get a driver’s license, want to join the military, or apply to college. DREAM Act youth are American in every sense of the word — except on paper. It’s been nearly a decade since the DREAM Act was first introduced. If Congress does not act now, another generation of promising young graduates will be relegated to the shadows and blocked from giving back fully to our great nation.
This is what you can do right now to pass the DREAM Act:
- Sign the DREAM Act Petition
- Join the DREAM Act Facebook Cause
- Send a fax in support of the DREAM Act
- Call your Senator and ask them to pass the DREAM Act now.
- Email kyle at citizenorange dot com to get more involved
Below is a list of previous entries in the DREAM Now Series:
Mohammad Abdollahi (19 July 2010)
Yahaira Carrillo (21 July 2010)
Weekly Recap – Tell Harry Reid You Want the DREAM Act Now (23 July 2010)
Wendy (26 July 2010)
Matias Ramos (28 July 2010)
Weekly Recap – The CHC Has To Stand With Migrant Youth Not Against Us (30 July 2010)
Tania Unzueta (2 August 2010)
Marlen Moreno (4 August 2010)
Weekly Recap – The Ghost of Virgil Goode Possesses the Republican Party (9 August 2010)
David Cho (9 August 2010)
Ivan Nikolov (11 August 2010)
Yves Gomes (16 August 2010)
Selvin Arevalo (18 August 2010)
Weekly Recap – Latino, LGBT, Migrant Youth, and Progressive Bloggers Lead For the DREAM Act (20 August 2010)
Carlos A. Roa, Jr. (23 August 2010)
Myrna Orozco (25 August 2010)