By YaKenda McGahee, CCTV Los Angeles
Dream Team L.A.,“My name is Alma, I’m from L-A and I have a right to an education. My name is Uriel, and I have the right to be with my family. My name is Michelle. I have the right to speak my voice and be heard.”
It is but a brief glimpse into a lengthy immigrant youth campaign …pressuring the president and lawmakers to pass a U.S. immigration reform bill called the “Dream Act”—Dream being short for “Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors.”
Sofia Campos (undocumented and unafraid),“I think this announcement came about because of our undocumented youth-led movement. We pushed for this campaign for the last 2 years.”
They’ve organized press conferences, petition drives, street protests and street performances.Two years of tireless lobbying, culminating in one historic decision.
President Obama: “It is the right thing to do.”
And Sofia Campos was squarely in the midst of it all.
Dream Team L.A.,“My name is Sofia Campos. I’m from Los Angles and I have the right to give back to our communities.”
This is their civil rights movement. Immigrant youth– documented and not- now determined to assert their rights and emerge from the shadows. They are- she is– “undocumented in America, and unafraid.”
Carlos Amador (Dream Team L.A.),“The slogan ‘undocumented and unafraid’ came out in 2010 when the immigrant youth led the national campaign to pass the federal Dream Act. For many years undocumented youth have lived in the shadows with the fear of deportation, the fear of being found by immigrant officers. But I think we reached a point where we embrace the identity of being undocumented and said that we belong to this country and we’re no longer going to be afraid.”
Neither afraid to pursue their dreams –nor— tell their stories. This is Sofia’s story.
Sofia,“So I came to Los Angeles when I was 6 years old from Lima, Peru.”
Economic turmoil, and civil unrest in Peru, brought her family to America. And Sofia excelled here as a young scholar, student athlete, youth leader and community activist. It wasn’t until her senior year in high school when Sofia, just accepted to UCLA, learned her legal status.
Sofia Campos, “I had to apply for financial aid and I directly asked them can I have my social security number. And they hesitantly told me that I didn’t have one and that we were undocumented.”
And so began the difficult journey of transitioning from undocumented childhood to undocumented adulthood.
Sofia Campos,“It was feelings of confusion. Feelings of just betrayal. You think you’re something. You think you’re like everyone else. Then all of a sudden you’re hard work, you’re good grades, don’t really mean as much to your country or to the public.”
For Sofia this brought many contradictions—income taxes without social benefits, college admission without financial aid, higher education with no legal career opportunities. Her life consisted of multiple odd jobs… and many grueling hours.
Sofia Campos,“I did a 4-hour commute every day to UCLA and back because I didn’t have access to getting a license here, because I don’t have a social security number.”
But she does have determination – for 5 years – she worked her way through college earning a double degree in International Studies and Political Science.
Sofia Campos, “It’s a bitter sweet moment. We’re very proud of what we’ve accomplished as graduates. But it’s also very daunting, right. Because now what? What can we do after we graduate if we can’t have access to working legally.”
But on her college graduation day – a graduation gift she couldn’t possibly have imagined.
White House HOUSE(June 2012),“It makes no sense to expel talented young people who, for all intense and purposes, are American.”
Sofia Campos “It was a beautiful graduation present. The timing was great.”
A priceless gift, but possibly fleeting too. While Sofia can now work legally under the President’s new executive order. It is temporary– just 2 years. But Sofia’s resolve is not.
Sofia Campos, “So this is not the end of the immigrant youth movement. This is just the beginning. How do you define American? Is it just a nine-digit social security number that says somebody is American? Or is it 22 years of living here that says whether your American?”