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“We are Undocumented, Unafraid, and Unapologetic!”

In DREAM Act, Education, Immigration, NLLSA, Politics, Race on May 10, 2011 by NLLSA Chair

This photo started circulating on Facebook among friends and supporters of the Indiana DREAMers hours after the demonstration


This is the motto that DREAMers in Indiana professed at a public town hall meeting on May 9, 2011.  Who are these DREAMers and why did they meet at the Statehouse in Indianapolis, IN? DREAMers are community supporters and students who, because of their immigration status, may be deprived of an education due to the passage of two bills in the state of Indiana.  The members of the Latino/a Youth CollectiveDREAM IU, and The DREAM is Coming gathered at the Indiana Statehouse on May 9 to openly speak about their immigration status and to urge Governor Mitch Daniels to veto the two discriminatory bills that have recently passed in the Indiana House and Senate.

The two bills at issue are Indiana  SB 590 and HB 1402.  SB 590 is an Arizona SB 1070 style bill which would allow the State to enforce immigration laws, a duty commonly reserved for the Federal Government.  It also includes measures, among other things, to require the state to stop offering government forms printed in languages other than English; it would calculate the cost of illegal immigration in Indiana including public benefits to seek reimbursement from the Federal Government; and would establish different bond requirements for undocumented defendants. [1]  HB 1402 contains language that would prevent undocumented students from receiving in state tuition at Indiana colleges and Universities. [2]

At the May 9 town hall meeting, DREAMers spoke about the impact that the passage of these two bills would have on their lives.   Student Rudy Hermosillo took the podium wearing his sunglasses.  His first statement was, “Is it sunny in here?…Because I want to have a bright future.”  He then went on to explain how he was brought to the United States when he was three months old and has lived in the U.S. ever since.  He then urged us to remember that the thing that makes the U.S. unique is that it was a country made up and built by immigrants.

Indiana University Bloomington student Omar Gama, an undocumented DREAMer spoke about his experience crossing the border at age eleven.  In a biography he elaborates on his experience:

I still remember those dark and cold moments when I walked for 3 nights and 2 days just to cross the border. Looking back as my mom was being left behind because she could not walk any longer, having complete strangers carry me because I was too tired to walk, stepping on cacti because it was too dark to see where I was going, to sleeping in a house with 20+ people waiting to be shipped to our destinations. [3]

After his account he added that he would never wish this experience on anyone.  Omar concluded his presentation by reminding us of a past declaration that Governor Daniels made in regards to education.  According to Omar, Governor Daniels stated that he was going to fight for reform that would help students achieve citizenship.   Omar and the DREAMers want to take him up on this offer and are asking Daniels to veto SB 590 and HB 1402.

Many of the presenters at the town hall meeting were undocumented student DREAMers who explained how these measures would affect their lives, but one student, a U.S. citizen, also spoke and explained how these two bills would affect citizen children if they were signed into law.  An eleven-year-old student took the podium and explained that her family consisted of members with mixed statuses.  Before she could go on, she burst into tears and members of the audience had to console her.  She regained her composure and explained that if SB 590 were enacted into law, her family would be forced to either separate or move away from Indiana.  With a sob she explained that she could not bear to think about being separated from her family especially her older brother.

The presentations by the DREAMers were heartfelt and emotional, but they did not just gather to share their stories, they came with a mission and were not going to leave the Statehouse without meeting with Governor Daniels.  In a press release issued by The DREAM is Coming, the DREAMers explained that on several occasions, they tried to contact Governor Daniels to schedule a meeting with him to talk about SB 590 and HB 1402.  Despite his constant refusal, the demonstrators were determined to meet with him before the day was over.

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Picture courtesy of the Latino Youth Collective "Dreams over Hate - May 9, 2011" [4

DREAMers outside of Governor Mitch Daniel's Office

DREAMers demonstrating at the Indiana Statehouse, Courtesy of Cristal Cabrera

After the presentation five of the DREAMers, known as the Indiana 5, dressed in their high school graduation caps and gowns and went into Governor Daniels’ office to request a meeting with him.  When his spokeswoman refused to let them in, the Indiana 5 sat in the reception area of the Governor’s office where security urged them to leave.  In the atrium outside of Governor Daniels’ office, the rest of the meeting attendees began a demonstration with banners stating “Be Our Man Mitch Veto SB 590 TODAY” (a play on Governor Daniel’s campaign slogan “My Man Mitch”), “Allow us to reach our full citizenship Veto HB 1402,” “We Forgive but we don’t Forget MITCH A Successful Presidency Depends on the Latino Vote” (it is speculated that Governor Daniels will run as a Republican candidate in 2012).  Demonstrators were holding these banners as well as the Quilt of Dreams, a quilt that the Latino Youth Collective has been building over the last few years to raise awareness about the DREAM Act.

Police Officers intervene, picture courtesy of Cristal Cabrera

      Police officers almost immediately responded to the demonstration and tried to remove demonstrators from the door to Governor Daniels’ office.  When an officer tried to grab the Quilt of Dreams from demonstrator Idamarie Collazo, she refused to let him take it and then other officers intervened and arrested Ms. Collazco.  The rest of the demonstrators roared with anger and started to shout, “Up with hope, down with hate, Hoosiers don’t discriminate!”  Chanting continued as more and more officers arrived on scene.  The chants of the demonstrators ranged from “Education not Deportation” to “Stop 1402 we want to go to school.”

The demonstration ended when the Indiana 5 were arrested for not leaving the reception area of Governor Daniel’s office.  They were taken to the Marion County Processing Center where the remaining demonstrators held a vigil for the Indiana 5.  The DREAM is Coming is currently taking donations through their website to bail out the Indiana 5 under the Hoosier Dreamers Fund. DREAMers are now focusing on getting the Indiana 5 out of jail and urging the public to contact Governor Daniels about vetoing both SB 590 and HB 1402.

____________________________

Cristal Cabrera is a second-year student at Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis and serves as NLLSA’s Central Regional Director.

References:

[1] Indiana SB 590

[2] Indiana HB 1402

[3] Omar, The DREAM is Coming.com

[4] “Dreams over Hate – May 9, 2011,” Latino Youth Collective, Facebook.com

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3 Responses to ““We are Undocumented, Unafraid, and Unapologetic!””

  1. “Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, the author of SB 590, called the bill “tough but fair” and said that if the people arrested Monday [the DREAMers] are indeed in this country illegally, they should be deported.”

    http://www.indystar.com/article/20110510/LOCAL18/105100322/Immigration-debate-comes-Daniels-doorstep?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|Ind

  2. Gov. Mitch Daniels signed the two bills into law on Tuesday, the day after the student protest. The arrested students were bailed out of jail and their hearings were held on Wednesday. Please see the article below for more information.

    http://www.indystar.com/article/20110511/NEWS05/105110330/6-students-immigration-protest-released-from-jail?odyssey=nav|head

    Videos have been posted on Facebook about the protest and the Indiana 5. Please visit the Latino Youth Collective page to see the videos and to learn more about what is happening with the DREAMers in Indiana.

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/latinoyouthcollective/145868556346?ref=ts

  3. In what world is SB590 and HB1402 fair? Sen. Mike Delph needs to go back to school and do some research to find in what text book it says that Enlgish is the official nationa language. And Gov. Mithc Daniels, we will not forget, we are certainly unapologetic. I’ll remember to vote on the next election.

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