Do you have something on your to-do list today that has been on your to-do list for days, weeks, nearly two decades? Today, The Dream Act, in various forms, has been in front of our government leaders in D.C. for nearly two decades. As a country, we are out of time to take action to secure the future of hundreds of thousands minors and young adults in the United States. With the termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (“DACA”) and the looming expiration of Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”) for current recipients, countless people will soon be stripped of legal means of existence in the United States.
I came to the United States at age 9. The only thing that differentiates me from the young people fighting for their right to exist in the United States is that I had the might of the Jewish community fighting for my freedom and legitimacy. Today, I am a U.S. citizen and grateful to the community that welcomed and lifted my family in this great democracy. I am asking you to raise your voices today for people of all faiths and stand up for the young people for whom the Dream Act is the only means of living in the light of the United States. The vulnerable cannot fight alone. Please use your privilege to welcome and lift others.
I met Helal Alshalali through his activism with Michigan United to raise support for the Dream Act. Helal was born in Yemen and sought safety in the United States with his mother when he was just 11 years old. Today, Helal is 17 and is a beneficiary of TPS. However, his legal status in the United States is running out, just as it is for hundreds of thousands of others. The Dream Act is his only immediate hope to remain legally in the United States.
Helal’s most poignant words of how there is nothing temporary about the roots he has set in America are, “I know for a fact that I will not get deported without a fight. I know TPS was temporary, but the life I’ve built is permanent.”
Would you not say the same if everything you have known was to be ripped out from under you? Helal is fighting through advocacy and peaceful resistance, the fundamental principles of positive change in the United States.
You can make a difference. And I urge you to do so. Call your representatives. Call them whether you think they support the Dream Act or not. Tell them why you support the Dream Act. Talk about why welcoming and protecting new Americans is the foundational fabric of the United States.
Share your own immigration story. You absolutely have one. Share the story why safety and refuge has been critical to the Jewish people and the consequences of the times they were denied. Talk about your values and our values. We have voices. And we must raise our voices now to affirm that we stand on the side of human rights and freedom and diversity with a fervent passion for justice and dignity for all.
Two decades is two decades too long to act. Clean Dream Act Now.
Genia Gazman is a member of the inaugural class of Michigan United’s Women’s Leadership Program.