Trail of Dreams Is Trail of Hope

I found myself on the steps of the courthouse with other Amnesty International members. We were holding signs that read “Immigrant Rights Are Human Rights!” and holding our heads even higher. I was proud to be there. But I was prouder of the students making history by walking 1,500 miles for immigrants’ rights. And Atlanta was just one stop along their crucial march for legal recognition, the Trail of Dreams 2010.

Carlos Roa, Juan Rodriguez, Felipe Matos, Gaby Pacheco, photo credit: Joeff Davis/www.Joeff.com

Carlos Roa, Juan Rodriguez, Felipe Matos, Gaby Pacheco, photo credit: Joeff Davis/www.Joeff.com

The Trail of Dreams is a trail of hope. It is headed by young people, Felipe, Gaby, Carlos, and Juan, who may lack legal recognition in the US, but carry their human rights. It is a 1,500 mile walk from Miami to Washington D.C to raise awareness about broken US immigration laws and to demand fair and humane immigration law and policy. It is a journey for these students, two of them undocumented, in their fight for rights.

The students walking represent the thousands of young immigrants who were brought to this country in their childhoods by parents who were trying to provide them with a better life. Many live in daily fear of arrest and deportation and have spent their entire lives hiding, understanding that they are considered ‘illegal’ human beings by some lawmakers and media pundits.

Every day in America, hundreds of thousands of young immigrants are unable to fully participate in society. They attend school, play sports and achieve good grades, but are prohibited from receiving any benefits such as in-state tuition to universities they dreamed of attending because they do not have lawful status. Worse, current immigration law provides no avenues for the vast majority of these students to legalize their status, no matter how well they do in school or how much they contribute to their communities.

On February 27th, Felipe, Gaby, Carlos, and Juan arrived in the city of Atlanta after traveling almost 700 miles by foot. Amnesty International members, including Atlanta local group 75, were there to greet them and celebrate their arrival. AIUSA members helped plan the welcome party with our coalition partners such as GALEO and GLAHR. About 150 people marched with the walkers for two miles to the welcome party. On the following Wednesday, AIUSA participated in an action planned by the four students to express concern about the implementation of the “287(g) program” across the country, including in Gwinnett County near Atlanta, Georgia.

The 287(g) program deputizes local law enforcement officers to act as immigration authorities and enforce federal immigration laws. Since the fall of 2009, when the law was implemented in Gwinnett County, some 900 immigrants have been identified for possible deportation proceedings and immigrants in the community have expressed an increased fear of engaging with local police, even when they are victims of crime.

Attempting to meet with the County Sheriff, Butch Conway, the four students entered the Gwinnett County courthouse. Due to their undocumented status, some of the students risked arrest and deportation by reaching out to the sheriff, but they went forward anyway. While the sheriff was not available that day, a representative of his office did meet with them and listened to the students’ concerns. No arrests took place.

They walk because they have human rights just like you and me.

They walk because they are not in hiding anymore.

They walk because no human being is “illegal”.

They walk because they too have a dream.

Ashley Rhymer is a Guest Contributor.

AIUSA welcomes a lively and courteous discussion that follow our Community Guidelines. Comments are not pre-screened before they post but AIUSA reserves the right to remove any comments violating our guidelines.

8 thoughts on “Trail of Dreams Is Trail of Hope

  1. Yes a thousand time yes! My entire family are inmigrants (thanks God legal) in the USA, I'm an inmigrant but in France, and if we left our country it wasn't just because, it was a difficult desicion for everyone of us! We left a country with a difficult govermment but where we were reconized and treated as professionals ( all of us are graduated from the university) to get to other countries where that is not important, but that's not important for us! We still want to work very hard for and in the country that's receiving us during the hard times our country is passing! But, yes, we have rights too! We can't not be treated as garbage, becasue there isn't one country that's not made through out all its history with the hardwork of many foreing people! All around the world you'll find brave people that decides to leave his/her country for arrive in other where he/she is not always welcome but these persons decide to work very hard for those country as they would work for theirs!

  2. Yes a thousand time yes! My entire family are inmigrants (thanks God legal) in the USA, I’m an inmigrant but in France, and if we left our country it wasn’t just because, it was a difficult desicion for everyone of us! We left a country with a difficult govermment but where we were reconized and treated as professionals ( all of us are graduated from the university) to get to other countries where that is not important, but that’s not important for us! We still want to work very hard for and in the country that’s receiving us during the hard times our country is passing! But, yes, we have rights too! We can’t not be treated as garbage, becasue there isn’t one country that’s not made through out all its history with the hardwork of many foreing people! All around the world you’ll find brave people that decides to leave his/her country for arrive in other where he/she is not always welcome but these persons decide to work very hard for those country as they would work for theirs!

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  4. We really need to work out a way to give people like this access to legal immigration status. How can they have been in this country for so long and not at least be able to apply for a student visa?

  5. We really need to work out a way to give people like this access to legal immigration status. How can they have been in this country for so long and not at least be able to apply for a student visa?

  6. Wow! This is really astounding to me! I can't believe these ordinary students are doing the extraordinary and walking 1, 500 miles for The Trail of Dreams 2010! I myself believe that immigrants today are not treated equally and do not recieve the recognition they deserve, but this, wow! This is a huge solution to just one of the many immigration problems that we face today!

  7. Wow! This is really astounding to me! I can’t believe these ordinary students are doing the extraordinary and walking 1, 500 miles for The Trail of Dreams 2010! I myself believe that immigrants today are not treated equally and do not recieve the recognition they deserve, but this, wow! This is a huge solution to just one of the many immigration problems that we face today!

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