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1 DREAMers Youth and Migration: American DREAMers and Mexico Marta Caminero-Santangelo Primary Materials: ● Dream Act Now by Lalo Alcaraz (cartoon, n.d.) ● Dream Girl by Lalo Alcaraz (cartoon, 2014) ● GOP Santa Gives It to DREAM Act Students and to Latinos by Lalo Alcaraz (cartoon, 2016) ● The Guardians by Ana Castillo (novel, 2007) ● Under the Same Moon, directed by Patricia Riggen (film, 2007) ● Underground Undergrads: UCLA Undocumented Immigrant Students Speak Out, edited by Gabriela Madera et al. (testimonies, 2008) ● Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea (novel, 2009) ● Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez (novel, 2009) ● Which Way Home, directed by Rebecca Cammisa (documentary, 2009) ● Papers: Stories by Undocumented Youth,edited by José Manuel et al.(testimonies, 2012) ● Los Otros Dreamers, edited by Jill Anderson and Nin Solis (multimedia project, 2014) I n the past decade and a half, undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children have been among the most vocal and visible activists for the passage of legislation for immigration reform. They have been 26 Marta Caminero-Santangelo called DREAMers, referring specifically to their eligibility for the proposed DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act, which would provide a path to legalization for undocumented youth meeting certain conditions. The general rhetorical argument constructed in support of the DREAM Act goes something like this: DREAMers were brought to the United States by their parents, not of their own volition; the United States is in many cases the only country they remember; they are often high-achieving, meritorious students; they could make substantial contributions to U.S. society but are currently unable to do so because of their legal status. By far the majority of DREAMers (roughly 70 percent) are originally from Mexico. And according to the Migration Policy Institute, undocumented immigrants from Mexico who are currently eligible for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) are approximately 14 percent of the total undocumented population from Mexico. DACA is the policy instituted by President Barack Obama in the wake of the repeated failure of the DREAM Act or more comprehensive immigration reform to pass Congress, to allow work permits and a temporary deferral of deportation for qualifying undocumented youth.In this essay I address the question, How does Mexico operate in the DREAMer cultural imaginary? I examine a range of art both by and about undocumented youth in the United States,including (1) first-person narratives by DREAMers themselves in collections such as Papers: Stories by Undocumented Youth, Underground Undergrads: UCLA Undocumented Immigrant Students Speak Out, and Los Otros Dreamers, as well as on the Internet; (2) visual art and music by and about DREAMers; (3) novels by U.S. Latinx authors, such as The Guardians by Chicana Ana Castillo, Into the Beautiful North by Chicano Luis Alberto Urrea, and the young adult novel Return to Sender by Dominican American Julia Alvarez , with narrators who are undocumented youth from Mexico; and (4) films such as the documentary Which Way Home (about Central American unaccompanied minors) and the drama Under the Same Moon (La misma luna),about an undocumented minor who travels to the United States from Mexico in search of his mother. Because publicly disseminated DREAMer testimonies (drawing on the Latin American genre of testimonio, or life narrative told as part of a “political imperative ” [Sommer 134]) are crafted to further a particular political agenda (legal incorporation into the United States through the passage of the DREAM Act), representations of ties to and identity with Mexico in such testimonies are often muted, while representation of their U.S. American identities is drawn in dreamers 27 bold strokes, emphasizing their allegiance to the host country and their embrace of the ideal of the American Dream. Other forms of artistic representation, by contrast, substantially complicate this rather singular narrative of U.S. American belonging.The identity of undocumented youth portrayed in novels by U.S. Latinx writers, for instance, is, ironically, more ambivalent and transnational; filmic representation of the growing phenomenon of unaccompanied undocumented minors complicates further the justificatory narrative that DREAMers were brought by their parents and therefore not willful agents in their own (unlawful ) migration. DREAMer Testimony and Advocacy As I have already suggested, part of the rhetorical case that DREAM activist youth make for passage of the DREAM Act is that for many,the United States is the only home they remember; in building communities of solidarity they have identified more closely with DREAMers of other national origins than with Mexico as their country...


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