DREAMing Citizenship: Undocumented Youth, Coming Out, and Pathways to Participation

The DREAMers consist of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as minors by their parents/guardians, in hopes of providing them with a better future and education. DREAMers are being encouraged to “come out” as a way of spreading awareness with the intention of bringing about positive social change for all undocumented youth who have or potentially will suffer the consequences of being discovered as undocumented.

DREAM: Development Relief Education for Alien Minors

DREAM Act: “…Would provide an opportunity for undocumented students ‘with good moral character’ who have lived in the U.S. for a certain period to obtain legal status.” (189)

DACA: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – “enables individuals who immigrated before the age of 16 and are currently under 31 to apply for deferred removal action should they meet certain criteria such as having a clear criminal record and some history of attending school. DACA does not, however offer a pathway to citizenship.”

QUIP: Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project

  1.            “By calling themselves DREAMers, these young people evoke the American Dream  — one that is being rewritten to include not just economic prosperity, but also the affordances of citizenship — and echo Martin Luther King Jr.’s iconic call for racial equality, ‘I Have a Dream.'” (187)
  2.             “...DREAMers have used digital media to build on historically situated practices of mobilization and movement building, showing how DREAMers are not completely ‘reinventing the wheel’ when it comes to activism, but making creative use of new media to put a new face on civil rights activism in the 21st century.” (187)
  3.             “Due to several compromises to secure bipartisan support, the DREAM Act has undergone significant changes…A 2009 appraisal bill estimated that about 2 million unauthorized youth would immediately benefit from the DREAM Act, but only 33 percent may benefit from the educational path in the bill (Passel and Cohn 2009).” (189)
  4.          “…it is clear that DREAM activists combined a familiarity with the conventions of the LGBTQ movement with their knowledge of video blogging techniques to publicly claim ownership of their undocumented status and shine a light on their experiences. (196) Coming out, while important for all DREAMers who choose to reveal their status, takes on an even more complex meaning for those who identify as both undocumented and queer…In a way, solidarity and strength through collective action underlined a new sense of well-being, with the promise of new community.” (197)
  5.             “In his 2007 book, Dream, on the oft-overlooked relationship between imagination and politics, Stephen Duncombe writes: ‘Dreams are powerful. They are repositories of our desire. They animate the entertainment industry and drive consumption. They can blind people to reality and provide cover for political horror. But they also inspire us to imagine that things could be radically different than they are today, and then believe that we can progress toward that imaginary world. (182)'” (218)


How I Found Out I’m an Undocumented Citizen” Video

(Uploaded to YouTube by Vanity Fair on February 23, 2017)

  •  This video features a series of undocumented students sharing their stories, and how they found out that they were undocumented. Their stories are incredibly influential in helping to spread awareness of how important things such as DACA and the DREAM Act are to these young adults. Having been published by a company as large as Vanity Fair is also a big step in the right direction for educating others on these topics. So far, this video has been viewed over 70,000 times. While media like this will still receive some pushback and backlash, it is still reaching a variety of consumers, whether they agree with the content or not. These students are hard workers sharing their stories to spread awareness.



(Uploaded to WordPress by user SupportSweetDreams on October 31, 2012)

  • This meme was clearly created by a DREAM supporter, using the popular “sarcastic Willy Wonka” photo. Supporting DREAMers being able to attend college in this way, is reminiscent of how some people complain that immigrants are taking jobs. In general, it is found that many of those who complain are the people who either don’t have jobs, or don’t have “good” jobs, and appear to use immigrants as an excuse for that.  This meme pokes fun at people with the same mindset about undocumented students attending college. People are more likely to blame immigrants for themselves or their children not getting into college, even though if they are accepted, then they have earned the right to attend.



(Screenshots from Twitter uploaded to Tumblr by user whatareyoureallyafraidof)

  • Throughout searching for content, I’ve found that a lot of hateful comments from people regarding concerns of immigration and DACA are being combatted with similar but reversed responses. While responses like this are comically ironic and good for gaining attention, they are likely not the most effective way to change peoples’ minds about topics like these. People who agree with each respective side will share these posts for their own reasons. Overall, they seem to be misunderstood in the way that they are being responded to… I’ve also found that when people are being responded to in this way, some are referring to the responders as being “anti-whites.” 


“Immigration is Documented” Video

(Uploaded to YouTube by Define American on April 9, 2013)

(*comments section) Three sides represented

Advising Undocumented Students

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