Wednesday, April 17, 2013

By Kalpana Krishnamurthy

Photo by: Dave LaFontaine
When I first saw this image, I was captivated. All I could think was “YEESSSSSSS, this tells the full story.” 

Winning the federal DREAM Act would mean celebrating several million undocumented youth becoming eligible for a six-year-long conditional path to U.S. citizenship. Dreamers, the young immigrants all across the country who have been building support for the DREAM Act since 2001, have already won 13 state versions of the bill. Yet, as we continue to fight, we must remember to celebrate immigrant families as a whole, too. Politicians and the media too often tell a story about the Dreamers that undermines immigrant families. They describe immigrant youth as “blameless victims,” victimized by their own parents and families, the villains who brought their children into the U.S. illegally. But that story is not the real story.

With one image, New Mexico Dreamers in Action (NM DIA) are taking charge of their families’ stories, and using the internet to spread it as far as possible. Eddie Aranda, brother of statewide coordinator of NM DIA Italia Aranda, created the image. When I asked what inspired it, Italia Aranda said “You can see how tired the Dad is. I love the look in his eyes because he looks real. We’ve seen that look in our parent’s eyes all of our lives. They have worked to take care of us, to feed us. This is an image of any parent who wants the best opportunities for their children. We’re fighting alongside our parents and our communities to make this dream happen.” Eddie Aranda contacted the photographer, who supported using the photo, and it has gone viral. It has been liked more than 1500 times on Facebook.

In addition to fighting for the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform, NM DIA is working with Strong Families New Mexico to write another chapter in immigrant families’ stories by gathering signatures in support of uniting same-sex couples across national borders. 

During the 2013 legislative session in Sante Fe, New Mexico House members passed a resolution encouraging federal immigration reform to include LGBT families. This resolution is the first pro-LGBT legislation to pass the New Mexico House floor. Strong Families NM organizer Adriann Barboa said, “The resolution passed the house, and we are proud that New Mexico legislators are showing leadership on this issue. We hope that the five members of the New Mexico federal delegation will follow their lead.”

Strong Families NM partners have already gathered over 800 signatures in two weeks from across the state and will deliver them in May during face-to-face meetings with Congressional members. “Leaders in the New Mexico legislature stood up for all families,” said Barboa. “This petition is especially important because the draft comprehensive immigration reform proposals released earlier this week by the Gang of 8 has no provisions for same-sex couples. So we need to pressure our Congressional leaders to include all families within immigration reform.” People living in New Mexico can sign the petition here.

Aranda agrees, “We have New Mexico Dreamers who are queer. Because of that, we wanted to take a strong stance that all families are included in comprehensive immigration reform. We’ve been educating our own base about the experience of undocumented queer students for the past two years, and the petition is a great way to push our federal delegation to stand with all families in New Mexico.”

Thanks to NM DIA and Strong Families NM for doing your part to tell the real story of our families and to make all of our dreams a reality!

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