DREAMing Citizenship

The DREAMers are a group of youth activists who advocate for undocumented youth, some “come out,” revealing their undocumented status, typically in videos that they post. BAMN analyzes how this movement used digital media to gather stories and experiences, connect those who share these similar stories, eventually leading to and encouraging “on-the-ground” action.

Key Ideas

  • The establishing of the DREAM Act (2001), which is Development Relief Education for Alien Minors. This would provide students “with ‘good moral character’ who lived in the U.S. for a certain period to obtain legal status.” However, over time, changes occurred: age limit to 30 years, narrowed bill’s reach (ex. Few students benefit from the educational path of the bill), and decreased the number of youth who would qualify (Jenkins et al 189).
  • Dreamers are at risk, even when it’s just online: there is a possibility that they’ll be deported. They’re confessing that they are undocumented. One fact I found particularly interesting was that the state they live in matters, too. For example, someone in California is at less risk because the population has a greater amount of minorities. But, in the Midwest, that isn’t necessarily the case— there are fewer immigrants and the mindset of the general population is also different (193).
  • “Coming Out”– “Unlike the contested practice of ‘outing’ members of the LGBTQ community by journalists and others, a complete breakdown of respect for the sanctity of the closet, the act of coming out is about agency, power, and control over one’s own story” (196). By coming out, people are actively choosing this statement, they are taking control of and owning their identity.
  • Coming out Stories have 4 functions (199):
    • 1. “Serve as a psychic survival mechanism, providing an outlet for affective sharing and release on individual and communal levels” (199).
      • More specifically, people who are undocumented tend to live in constant fear that they’ll be deported. Coming forward and publicly sharing one’s identity and seeing how many people identify the same can relieve a lot of the pressure that they’ve experienced their whole lives
    • 2. “Create a visible archive of collective sentiment around the shared struggles and experiences of undocumented youth”
      • The movement provides videos where you can see the emotion, hear the stories of undocumented people on such a personal level
    • 3. “Harness the power of collective identity to create vital communities of support for undocumented youth”
      • That is, as an individual, you’re identifying with and feeling a connection to members of a larger group
    • 4. “Help spur involvement in other forms of activism and collective action, even in the face of political risk” (199).
      • This movement has sparked on-the-ground movements such as sit-ins, protests, walkouts, and hunger strikes. It spans past the digital movement
  • Transmedia mobilization: the process whereby a social movement narrative is dispersed systematically across multiple media platforms, creating a distributed and participatory social  movement “world,” with multiple entry points for organizing and for strengthening movement identity and outcomes” (212).

“Coming Out.” YouTube, uploaded by Define American, 30 June 2015, www.youtube.com/watch?v=llDIEEavk7c.

Although this is a grouping of adults and youth, I thought this video depicted what Zimmerman was trying emphasize: Individuals are “coming out” not only for themselves, but for their families and for other immigrants. The people in this video, like the youth who are advocates and DREAMers, defy stereotypes of immigrants, emphasizing that they are “neighbors,” “friends,” and “coworkers.” The book also mentions that a large amount of “coming out” videos were taken down and DreamActivist.org is no longer a live site.

Waakeme-up. “Camila’s Speech for the Dreamers at the 2018 Grammy Awards.” Tumblr, 5 Feb. 2019, c4bellos.tumblr.com/post/182589830257/tonight-in-this-room-full-of-musics-dreamers-we.

I found that Tumblr was a huge site of support for DREAMers. Tumblr was mentioned in the book as a space for DREAMers to share their stories. For such a popular figure like singer Camila Cabello to speak to her immigrant status is huge for the DREAMers. She speaks to the difficulty of being an immigrant and how her family came to the United States “with nothing in their pockets but hope.” In my search on Tumblr, I also found posts giving instructions on what to do if ICE comes to one’s household.

Me.Me. “THIS IS AN AMERICAN CHILD LIVING IN POVERTY CETHR BIOR FIRE HE IS A DREAMER TO0 WHY IS AN ILLEGAL MORE IMPORTANT AMERICANS ARE DREAMERS TOO MEME.” Instagram, 31 Jan. 2018, me.me/i/this-is-an-american-child-living-in-poverty-cethr-bior-20485494

I’d say that most of the memes that appeared when I googled “DREAMers meme” had a connotation that mimicked DREAMers, similar to this one. There was a lot of hate, anger, and jokes about DREAMers and immigrants in the States. I found that most of the memes were not produced by or for the DREAMers.


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