A group of young “dreamers”, immigrants who came to the U.S. when they were children, are coming together from different parts of the country to tour several states in the south. The young people will be talking with civic groups and lawmakers about the importance of President Obama’s immigration measures, DACA and DAPA, for their families, and encouraging Latinos and young people to vote. Our reporter Rubén Tapia interviewed a group of dreamers from Los Angeles who will be going on the tour.
Outside the federal courthouse in downtown Los Angeles, a group of dreamers is hyped up about their trip to the south. Eighteen-year-old Ixchel Hernandez is a student with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). She’s very clear about the reasons she is going on the trip.
“To register people to vote, to support DACA – DAPA and simply to prove that we are working people, students, and we are giving it the best we can in this country,” says Hernández. She studies art at California State University Northridge, and she wants to show that her family, who is from the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, is not a burden for this country.
“My parents didn’t just say, ‘Oh, I want to be a cook in two different restaurants and work more than 40 hours.’ My mom didn’t say, ‘I want to clean houses in Beverly Hills to support my family,’” says Hernández.
Another dreamer from Los Angeles who will go on the tour Dream Riders Across America is 20-year-old José Montes.
“I’m excited, nervous, happy to say I will be traveling to make a positive impact on the community,” says Montes.
Montes is originally from Colima, Mexico. He was five years old when he was brought to Los Angeles. In September, he will start studying political science, but he also works at night in a factory that processes lunch meats. He will lose some days of work because of the trip, but he doesn’t care.
“This cause is much more important, because it will open up many doors, not only for me, but for all communities,” says Montes.
About 20 young immigrants of Latino, Asian, and African backgrounds will participate on the trip.
“They are going to visit Nevada, the capital, Washington, D.C., and from there, they are going to Selma, Alabama, Georgia, and they are going to end up in Florida, because those states are critical for the Latino vote, for the immigrant vote, in the next elections,” says Alejandra Valles, Secretary-Treasurer of United Service Workers of the West, one of the unions promoting the project.
“And we know that if the more than 4 million young people across the United States vote, they can make a difference,” says Valles.
She says that difference would be crucial especially now, when multimillionaire Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has said Mexican immigrants are criminals and rapists.
“We are facing hate, racism, and discrimination. With their innocence, with the power of the next generation, they will be able to do something, and our communities will come together and vote, if not for themselves, for their children” says Valles.
She’s convinced that the youthful energy of the dreamers can be an important factor to get out the Latino vote.
By Rubén Tapia.