Because we are human and we demand nothing less

Dear DREAMers, Family, Friends,

I have a confession to make. After the initial disappointment that came with the vote in December, I awoke from my stupor to realize that the act we were fighting for was an insult. I will confess dear friends that, lately, I have been relieved and happy. Upon rereading that thing called the DREAM Act, I was hurt, I was insulted, and I felt below human. I believe animals have more rights than what was outlined by that thing.

The vote failed. But this isn’t a setback, it’s the beginning of a comeback.

Hear me out: I wanted this act to pass as much as the next activist. Some of us have worked many years for the DREAM to get as far as it did. For those of us who haven’t fought for this bill, we have often suffered long and lonely battles. Not all of us survived.

We needed the DREAM to pass, no matter what the final draft looked like.

We pushed aside the fact that we would still be marginalized as conditional residents: we will pay more taxes but we get no financial aid, no federal loans, no healthcare, and we will have to pay fees so high, it was as if the country was mocking us. It didn’t make sense; how were we supposed to finish school if we qualified for nothing?

Not to mention, if you were above the age cap, you would not qualify. And one felony meant we’re out of the country. Then there are fingerprints, biometrics, and selective service. Big Brother was going to be breathing down our neck… Is that what we were fighting for?! Was this an act to pave the way for future intellects, doctors, architects, lawyers, teachers, nurses, and leaders; or was it an act paving the way for future laborers?

But we were desperate, for something, anything.

Wake up, wake up, wake up! This was not what we were fighting for!

Please do not misunderstand me. I wanted this bill to pass badly. And I know my life and family’s lives would be this much easier if it did pass. But in the aftermath of it all I am able to see what must be done and how much harder we must push.

It was not a DREAM Act, it was an act of degradation. It was a version so watered down, it felt like the country was grudgingly acknowledging our existence but just barely. Like a worker begging the boss for his wages, and the boss giving the worker pennies for years of service, with a smirk and snicker tells the worker “Don’t spend it all in one place.”

No person with any self respect what even consider what we were trying to pass, no person would accept all the limitations, the conditions, and ridiculous restrictions. But we were so desperate, so hungry, and it was so close that we thought, this must be it! This is victory, we can taste it! Just one more push!

We’ve made so many concessions because the reasoning went, the more we yielded the more likely it will pass. But now we know better.

We now know we cannot compromise justice. We cannot compromise liberty. We cannot compromise human dignity.

I refuse. I demand respect. I demand my rights; rights every human is born with.

They defeated a bill, what we thought was our only hope, but now our rage is doubled, our agony multiplied, and our demands higher. A revolution has been ignited. We must take it to the next level. The movement must create tension that forces our oppressors to see us and acknowledge our humanity.

Our approach must be fiercely aggressive but never violent, confrontational and never passive, inspirational and always motivational.

We need to step it up to a level so high that it will become politically, socially, and economically dangerous for politicians and the public to ignore us.

Its time to first, acknowledge that as humans, we deserve rights because all humans (that’s us, DREAMers) are born equal. We cannot settle for anything less.

We cannot claim to inherit the torch of justice from the King himself if we make these pitiful concessions. Remember, the Supreme Court once ruled that freed blacks cannot possibly be citizens.

Second, we must show the wider public that the undocumented do contribute to the country. The truth is that this country feeds off cheap immigrant labor. Mainstream America is either in denial or just hasn’t caught on yet. After all, the vote failed because so many have painted immigration, an incredibly complex issue, as black and white. But, then again, black and white was never that simple to begin with, was it?

We must break down the myths that undocumented immigrants are criminals, refuse to assimilate, suck the welfare system dry, and steal jobs from natives.

Anti immigrant nativists have suddenly disappeared. Satisfied that the status quo has been maintained, they simply went back to their lives, as dignified people, with full rights guaranteed in this country, under God, with liberty and justice for some.

We fought this battle on their terms and arguments. We were constantly on the defense. Every time, they yelled “Your parents broke the law. Legalizing you rewards them!,” we threw our hands in the air and said “But we were young! We didn’t know! It wasn’t our choice.”

Enough apologizing. Our parents wouldn’t be here if the economy didn’t demand their labor, if international trade laws were actually fair, and if staying over there didn’t mean starving to death. I’m through apologizing. From now on, we need to get on the offense. Logic, justice, and history are all on our side. There is nothing to fear, nothing to apologize for, and nothing will hold us back.

I am human. I refuse to be desperate. I will rise above the frantic anxiety of living on the fringe, and I demand from myself first and foremost, and from my friends and family to help us on this uphill battle to be accepted as complete humans. Because we are human and we demand nothing less.

Alaa Mukahhal

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