DREAM Team @ NYU


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PRESS RELEASE: New York University Opens Financial Aid to NY Undocumented Students

Monday, November 17, 2014

CONTACT: Sandra Honigman, 914-365-9535, sph306@nyu.edu

New York, NY. The Office of Financial Aid at New York University (NYU) has announced that institutional scholarship aid will now be offered to qualifying undocumented students applying to NYU for the 2015-2016 academic year. Eligible undocumented students will have graduated from a high school within the state of New York be considered for financial aid awards alongside all other US applicants. Students who wish to apply may do so immediately.

Application form and qualifications: https://www.nyu.edu/financial.aid/forms/undocumented.html

The DREAM Team at NYU’s members have been in conversation with the Office of Financial Aid for the past year regarding the implementation of this student-authored policy change. Through continued conversations with the Office of Financial Aid, the DREAM Team hopes this policy will be renewed after the 2015-2016 academic year and extended to undocumented students across the US.

In an official university release, NYU spokesman John Beckman said, “We believe NYU offers a great education, and we hope this will make it a bit easier for undocumented young men and women from New York to attend NYU… But this effort actually begins, we’re proud to say, with a group of NYU students who call themselves the DREAM Team who came to the Admissions and Financial Aid office and challenged us to do better by these young men and women. This pilot is a tribute, to no small extent, to those students’ passion and compassion.”

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“It’s not just about deportations, it’s about deportability”

by Jesse Landy

The Obama administration has deported almost 2 million undocumented migrants throughout the course of his presidency, averaging out to almost 1,100 immigrations per day. This process of deportation is horrific and draconian. Deportations tear families apart, disrupt communities, and force people to return to the danger that they had sought amnesty from in the United States. Undocumented immigrants are often forced into detention centers for an indeterminate amount of time while waiting trial without the guarantee of due process or legal representation. A variety of reports have revealed the unacceptable conditions of most of these detention centers, which resemble prisons, though many of the incarcerated have not committed a criminal act. Stories of lack of food, recreation time, and access to family within the centers emphasize the humanitarian crisis currently being perpetuated by the United States government in regards to undocumented migration.


An ICE raid takes place in Santa Ana, California.

The sheer number of deported immigrants is staggering, as are reports of the rampant physical, mental, and sexual abuse implicit in this process. Nonetheless, these two million deportations do not even begin to scratch the surface of the at least 11.2 million (as of 2010) undocumented migrants living within the borders of the United States. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and it’s immigration subsidiary U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) do not have the money, power, or desire to actually physically deport all of the undocumented in the U.S. This is a sheer impossibility that would have unforeseeable and disastrous social, political, and economic ramifications on a national and global scale. Instead, this ramp up in deportations has a much more sinister goal, outside of the dehumanization and abuse of the deported. In reality, deportations feed into a social economy of spectacle. While many undocumented immigrants will not be deported, all must live in fear of random and abusive acts from government agencies and officials. This is meant to create an exploitable and oppressed pool of constant labor for the U.S economy. While conservatives attempt to prey on Neo-Malthusian concepts of scarcity in regards to undocumented immigrants, in reality, undocumented immigrants actually forfeit more in taxes than they receive in social benefits. And while they are subject to all negative aspects of the law, they receive none of its protection, including minimum wage, OSHA protection, and access to Federal Financial Aid, among many, many others.

The environment of fear constructed by U.S policing and surveillance penetrates the everyday lives of undocumented immigrants, who’s every action in public space must be premeditated and disciplined to avoid suspicion or inquiry. The border that divides citizen and non-citizen transcends its militarized location on the Mexican border, recruiting private citizens into disseminating these divisions. In some states employers and landlords are required to obtain proper documentation of citizenship, forcing private citizens to act as a veritable extension of the police, determining who can have access to what.

Here at New York University, our administrators take on this same responsibility in determining access based upon boundaries of citizenship. While our own school president John Sexton has announced support for both the Federal and New York State DREAM Acts, NYU still requires undocumented students to register as international students, even though they do not have international addresses and have lived in the United States for a large portion of their lives. This translates to higher tuition costs as well as lack of access to in-school scholarships and financial aid. Other private universities like Notre Dame, Dartmouth, Stanford, Duke, Columbia, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Chicago have already announced that they are open and financially accessible to undocumented students. Rather than furthering systems of extremely exploitative and oppressive labor, NYU has the ability to hold itself to its own standards of being “in and of the city”. With higher education becoming more and more necessary for equitable employment, NYU’s own policies work to prevent undocumented students from escaping the exploitation implicit in their non-citizen status. By offering more equitable access to higher education for undocumented students, NYU has the unique opportunity to begin chipping away at this unjust divide between citizen and non-citizen (and all of its social, economic, and political ramifications), while beginning to meaningfully address the human right to education.

Jesse Landy is a senior in the Gallatin School of Individualized Study concentrating in Human Rights and the Americas. He has been involved with the DREAM team at NYU for a year.


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I Request Your Solidarity and Action

Alexa Schaeffer

Yes, there is power in masses, but there is also power in a small group of deeply committed and caring activists. Yesterday the Youth Leadership Council in conjunction with several dream teams at universities throughout NYC held a mock election/ rally outside of the CUNY Graduate Center. For the day the center was a polling station for NYC’s mayoral and city council elections. We took the opportunity to have our voices heard by the public and voters who hopefully were a little more politically conscious than usual. 25 youth stood in a human chain on the sidewalk surrounding the “people’s podium”, a symbolic cardboard platform. Undocumented students and allies spoke out about why passing the NY Dream Act in 2014 is urgent.

I stood in the human chain as an ally, a student, and a U.S. citizen. Access to education is a universal human right that cannot continue to be denied to millions of youth throughout the nation. The movement of the DREAMers is extremely inspiring. I stand up with undocumented youth because my own privilege is not a reflection of my accomplishments or of my character. My privilege is simply luck of the draw. I was born in the U.S. while my cousins, who I consider my brothers, moved to the U.S. as children because their parents wanted what was best for their futures. I grew up with my cousins, knowing very well the difficulties they faced. I tried my best to hide my privilege. They carried their parent’s financial burden from age 8 on and as soon as they learned English they carried their parent’s cultural barriers, acting as translators, interpreters, and guides to help them navigate a new home. How is it possible I live such a different life from my own brothers simply because of being in the U.S. a few years prior to them, a decision neither them nor I had any control over?

While I harbored guilt about my privilege, my brothers harbored resentment towards their parents for subjecting them to a displaced childhood without a firm sense of belonging. Today, they no longer live in perpetual fear and I am no longer paralyzed by guilt. We don’t choose where we’re born, whom we are born to, and the situations we are born into. All we can do is to stand in solidarity with one another. My efforts in the YLC and the NYU Dream Team are in solidarity with my brothers, friends, and extended family whose realities could have easily been my own.

Last Wednesday I went on a day-long hunger strike in solidarity with the Dream 30, a group of 30 DREAMers ages 13-33 and 4 parents who were put in a detention center in Texas. The DREAMers are undocumented youth who had lived in the U.S. the majority of their lives but had to return to their native countries because of emergencies or because they could no longer stand to live undocumented. September 30th they stood at the border port of entry in Nuevo Laredo on the U.S.-Mexico border. They risked their futures to send a message: we can’t wait any longer. No human is illegal. I am as much of an American as any citizen.

When hearing about the Dream 30’s stories of bravery and immense courage I was frustrated and felt powerless. I called Senator Menendez and Senator Durbin encouraging them to follow through on their beliefs. Both Senators are proponents of immigration reform, however they hadn’t spoken out in support of the Dream 30. On October 25, the 24 remaining detainees went on a hunger strike to demand that Senator Menendez take a stand supporting their release. Dream Activist, a network of undocumented activists that support the Dream 30, asked allies to go on a day-long hunger strike. The hunger I felt last Wednesday cannot be compared to the 5-day hunger strike of the Dream 30 detainees nor can it compare to the struggle endured by millions of undocumented youth and families everyday. My hunger strike was my small contribution to raise awareness about immigration and the bravery and strength of the Dream 30 and countless other undocumented activists.

Last Thursday 11 of the Dream 30 were released from the detention center and on Friday 5 more were released. They travelled to Washington, D.C. to fight for the release of the remaining Dream 30 detainees in the offices of Congressman Joaquin Castro, Ed Pastor, Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez, Senator Dick Durbin & Senator Menendez. The relentless courage of the Dream 30 and their families has made a difference, but the fight isn’t over. There have been arrests and deportations of the Dream 30 almost everyday this week. Marco was arrested at Senator Ruben Hinojosa’s office and Marcela and Jesus were arrested at Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez’s office. Rocio was deported last week, Brandon was deported yesterday, and Karen is facing deportation at the end of this week.

11 million undocumented U.S. residents are continuously oppressed by U.S. systems and violent ideologies; this is not a democracy. Spaces are democratic when citizens are actively participating. Spaces are democratic when citizens share the same access to rights and the same vulnerability to sacrifice. Let’s strive to be a community and citizen driven democracy.

Take action!

Call Washington D.C. ICE @ 202-732-3000
Call Washington ICE @ 202-732-3100
Call Rep. Cuellar @ (202) 225-1640
Say something along the lines of: “Hi, I was calling to ask that the Dream 30 be allowed to come home to their families. All 30 have grown up here. They are not a flight risk, they should be allowed to come home to their families in the U.S.”

[Script provided by Dream Activist at dreamactivist.org]

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Alexa Schaeffer is a senior at NYU Gallatin studying art activism and public policy with a focus on Latin America. She hopes her post-grad future involves her passions: urban farming, art making, and traveling.

 

 


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Happy Columbus Day!!

Laura X Moya Guerrero

Happy Columbus day!!!

Sike naw y’all. Lets get real. But before we get real, let’s go back to elementary school days. When you were trading Pokémon cards and your mom packed school lunches with huevos and frijoles. Ugh the smell…but it was SO good. Okay that was my experience. But— do you all remember singing this song?  Or having to memorize the couplet from below?

In our educational system we are indoctrinated to memorize

In fourteen hundred ninety-two
Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

The rhyming and enforcement to learn the couplet is a mirror to what the state values. We owe the origins of our presence to one man that was brave enough to sail across the Atlantic Ocean: Christopher Columbus. The history of the origins of the America’s is written to glorify Christopher Columbus’s expedition, but it’s not written in a way that faces recognition of what would lead to become one of the most massive killings. The genocide of indigenous groups through the American hemisphere. We become indoctrinated to honor someone who is responsible for the genocide and colonization of our ancestors. After all, his expedition sparked the discoveries by John Cabolt and Hernán Cortés. That’s wild! That’s some 1984 shit. Honoring someone who killed part your ancestry.

But even if you don’t believe indigenous groups were your ancestors, they aren’t, or that “we are here already so why complain?”- What’s important is to take note of the effects the song has in our society today, and what it represents. The song honors a system of colonization; we have the right to explore and conquer other lands. There is another Columbus song that begins by romanticizing the day of Columbus’s adventure, “Day after day they looked for land;They dreamed of trees and rocks and sand.” The narrative arc of the song is of a man, the hero, who day after day, and night after night, struggles to find land. He finally finds the Bahamas and becomes the hero of the story. This could perhaps provide some insight to the neo-imperialism behavior that is practiced and accepted today through military and economic policies. It’s our right to expand politically and economically.

But back to this crazy ass song.

“ ‘Indians! Indians’ Columbus cried;”

They weren’t even Indians! (In my  Damian voice from Mean Girls)

 

Columbus thought he made it to the East Indies, what we know as Indonesia, so he named them Indians. Because the native Lucayans of Guanahani didn’t have their own name.

Christopher Columbus wasn’t even the first person to reach the Americas! (In my Damien voice from Mean Girls)

Chinese Admiral Zheng He setup colonies and sailed South America before Columbus; and the Norse, Vikings, settled in Canada in 1000 AD.

It always surprises me when people speak of the young 200-year history of the United States. There is a vast amount of history prior to the colonization. And it’s fucking beautiful (Although I admit to know very little and wish I knew more.)  What I can share with you all is that the Iroquois influenced Benjamin Franklin and the Founding fathers with their checks and balances system and system of colonies. The pillars to our government were influenced by the Iroquois but we aren’t even taught that in school. Wtf?! Why?

In this way, history is rewritten by the United States, they fail to omit how their culture is made up from the very same people they murdered and ostracized.

History is selectively written and shared to others by the winning group. But for a society to collectively move forward we have to discuss our own flaws. By failing to omit the damage, the United States rewrites history to their benefit and cripples their communities, us, from a collective education to progressively move forward.

And it’s not only the United States, but also our Latin American countries that take part in this selective and damaging history rewritten.

On my search for the Christopher Columbus song, I found some wild shit.

This is being taught in the schools of the countries that were colonized. Come on, mi gente.

What if instead of the 1492 song/couplet, we learn history in our elementary schools from songs that pass oral histories? From the indigenous tribes? Or what if we learned about the history in the United States for example, from Los Tigres Del Norte?

Crazy I know, but stay with me. In case you haven’t heard of Los Tigres Del Norte, they are one of the most well known Latin American bands that play corridos music. Corridos, are a Mexican music genre that primarily uses the accordion, hints a political event or has some political context, and are created, performed, and for, the working class people. The group is made up of the Hernandez brothers who migrated to the United States in 1968. They are part of the marginalized migrant community they write and share songs about. They have a song called, “Somos Mas Americanos” (We are More American) –hmm we could ask what does being more American even mean- in the mean time take listen and  look at their lyrics!

Ya me gritaron mil veces que me regrese

A mi tierra por que aqui no quepo yo,

Quiero recordarle al gringo yo no

Cruce la frontera la frontera me cruzo.

 

America nacio libre el hombre la dividio

 

Ellos pintaron la raya para que yo la

Brincara y me llaman invasor.

Es un error bien marcado nos quitaron

Ocho estados quien es aqui el invasor

They yelled at me a thousand times to go back

To my homeland, because there is no room for me here

I want to remind the gringo (anglo from United States)

That I didn’t cross the border, but the border crossed me.

America was born free and men divided it

They painted a line for me to jump

And now they call me the invader

It’s an error very well imprinted that they took from us

Eight states. Now who is the invader?

Wyoming, California, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, and Colorado.

I had to Google the eight states because I didn’t even know. But what they are referring to is the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, where Mexico was forced to relinquish half of its territory during the Mexican-American war. What would it be like to learn our history in first grade from Los Tigres del Norte? Can it be a tool for educators?  Could it change the way we look at Mexican migrant workers? Immigrants? or could it shape the way we look at others from an early age? Is the United States even ready for that? I’d like to think so.

So as people continue education through college or self-education, our generation is learning about the atrocities Christopher Columbus committed. Most people advocate to get rid of the holiday. Should we?

I don’t think so.

To a degree. Instead, I think the idea of the holiday needs a shift. Can we have a day, a month, or even a year to observe where/when we failed in humanity? Why do we have holidays that only celebrate ‘goodness’ or heroic values? Let’s stop putting people on pedestals and be critical of how we can collectively learn from each other. Because we can learn just as much, if not more from our mistakes.

The opinions expressed in this blog post belong to the author alone and do not necessarily represent the views of the DREAM Team at NYU as an organization.

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Born in Bogota, Colombia, Laura X Moya Guerrero is an emerging documentary filmmaker and editor, with a focus on making films that cross borders of misconceptions. In 1991, she immigrated to the United States with her family at age eight. The experiences she witnessed from living as an undocumented immigrant until age eighteen, imprinted a profound impact. After transferring from Montgomery College in Maryland, she is majoring in Film Production at Tisch School of Arts and minoring in Latino Studies. Dark chocolate is her weakness.


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Power, Privilege, and Responsibility: Fostering the Spirit of Activism at NYU

Maria-Monica Andia

nyu.300x300Higher education should be a right. But instead, it is a privilege, and attending an elite institution like NYU is a huge privilege. As NYU students, we need to be conscious of this and all other privileges that we have. Doing this is a difficult and on-going process, but absolutely necessary if our intention is to create an anti-oppressive and inclusive student community.

As a woman of color I am subject to the systems of sexism and racism. However, I also have the responsibility to recognize and come to terms with certain privileges that I have. For example, I am an immigrant and I have never been undocumented. As I became more involved in the immigrant rights movement and became an active ally to undocumented students a few years ago, I faced guilt over the privileged nature of my own immigration experience. Yet, guilt is not a productive feeling. In fact staying stuck in guilt can hold us back from being allies to other groups. Everyday, I must own my privilege and my experience as a documented immigrant. Taking ownership of this identity allows me to see my place as an ally in the undocumented rights movement. My place is wherever the leaders of the movement–the undocumented youth–need (or don’t need) me to be (see Marco’s post on allyship in the undocumented youth movement).

In my opinion, a large part of being socially conscious is to be aware of the many identities and identity intersections that are present in our communities. I think that many of us do have this awareness. However, at the same time I think that it is missing from many of our classrooms and consequently limiting us from creating a space that is optimal to our learning. Take note of the identities that are in our classrooms…what are the identities that we can see? Think about what the possible identities that we can’t see (because they are not visible or because they are underrepresented in our student body, such as undocumented students).  Think about the identities that intersect (e.g. race and gender) and what that means. Think about how minority identities (e.g. race, ethnicity, immigration status, gender, sexuality, religious beliefs, etc.) are affected by the privileged identities of others in the class. Think about the language that we use on a day-to-day basis—language can be used to reinforce the oppressive nature of systems or it can be used to combat them and thus work to create a safe space in and out of the classroom (e.g. using the term “illegal immigrant” is dehumanizing, the preferred term is “undocumented”).

Together we should be making a safe space in all our classes, regardless of department. This includes holding our professors accountable for not being oppressive or apathetic towards our fellow students. Keeping professors accountable is hard for me; it is something that I continue to work on today. It can be scary to tell a professor that their actions (or inactions) contributed to an unsafe environment for students. But it is necessary if we are to treat each other with respect. Lastly, remember that impact carries more weight than intention. I have experienced this in classes in which my peers used racist language, yet the majority of the class and the professor brushed this off because the student was “well intentioned.” It didn’t matter that this student’s comment had created a racially hostile environment for me and the few other students of color in the class.

community-activismI know that many activist student groups on campus such as the DREAM Team are working to send a message of inclusion and respect. However, I’d like to see the spirit of activism that is present in our student groups in our classrooms. I’d like to be a part of a student body that challenges exclusivity, apathy, and combats normative systems of oppression. As individuals, student groups, and as a university community at large we need to channel the energy of activism into the classroom in order to spread solidarity and awareness to our NYU peers.

The opinions expressed in this blog post belong to the author alone and do not necessarily represent the views of the DREAM Team at NYU as an organization.

1003900_3155846975032_1855981643_nMaria-Monica Andia is a core member of the DREAM Team at NYU. She is a double major in Social Work and Social and Cultural Analysis, with a focus on Latino Studies. Born in La Paz, Bolivia, she is passionate about immigrant rights, community empowerment, and youth grassroots organizing.


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Waiting On Reform: Not Another Thirty Years

Taylor Digby

In Your Hands Obama

At a time when our nation is experiencing a government shutdown, contentious discussions around healthcare, and other disheartening and diving debates, immigration reform debates are still looming under the table.  To understand what immigration policy proposals really mean, we cannot allow them to exist in a vacuum, but rather, we must make sure to contextualize them in the nation’s long history of immigration control and enforcement.

Throughout history, the U.S. has attempted to control immigration through a variety of racialized quota systems, enforcement policies, temporary worker programs, and various other policy inventions.  The diversity of immigration policies has proven unsuccessful and the U.S. is now facing a growing number of undocumented immigrants and politicians who cannot agree on the appropriate legislative step.

The problems the U.S. faces in regard to its immigration policy goes beyond current politicians and immigration flows; the fundamental problem is that the U.S does not recognize and take responsibility for its role in creating the current state of immigration.

The U.S. has frequently invaded developing countries such as the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Guatemala, disrupting locals’ lives and creating linkages between the nations.  While the U.S. attempts to classify these invasions as good-natured ways of assisting the developing nations, history shows that U.S. involvement often causes the countries’ labor systems to shift and jobs to be lost.  As residents of these nations face poor economic conditions, they look to the foreign nation that they are most familiar with due to transnational companies, U.S. military occupations, and a perpetuation of the ‘American Dream’ rhetoric throughout their nation.  Furthermore, immigrants who are displaced from their nations find a labor system in the U.S. that absorbs low-wage workers due to the growing casualization of the market.  Additionally, the U.S. has attempted to create policies, such as NAFTA, that divorce economic policies from immigration policies, which are inseparable in practice and effects.  Ultimately, until the U.S. recognizes its role in creating immigrant flows and the vacancies that immigrants fill in the U.S., it will not create an effective immigration policy.

Reagan IRCA CartoonThe most recent federal immigration policy reform took place in 1986 (the Immigration Reform and Control Act [IRCA]) and as we are only three years away from its thirtieth anniversary, it is becoming increasingly apparent that our immigration system is entirely broken.  Currently, President Obama is proposing immigration policies that have already been proven ineffective and do not account for the causes of undocumented immigration.  This is not a moment to be quiet or complacently accept the policies that our legislators are proposing.  Today’s immigration proposals are strikingly similar to those of 1986, and if anything, they are more frightening due to their extreme emphasis on enforcement.  We cannot risk another thirty years of subjecting our immigrants to an IRCA-like regime.  Ultimately, we can say that this is the time for change, but change will not take place unless we make it happen.

The opinions expressed in this blog post belong to the author alone and do not necessarily represent the views of the DREAM Team at NYU as an organization.

IMG_0031Taylor Digby is a senior in the Social and Cultural Analysis Department and a Core Member of the DREAM Team at NYU.  She is currently writing her Senior Honors Thesis on the Immigrant Rights Movement’s protests against detention centers and how they question the meaning of rights and citizenship.


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GANGSTA, WANKSTA, RIDA: Allies in the Undocumented Youth Movement

GANGSTA, WANKSTA, RIDA:

Allies in the Undocumented Youth Movement

The Undocumented Youth Movement has been able to transform itself over and over in the past three years. I remember the very first sit in in John McCain’s office,  asking to support the Federal Dream Act. I remember it because I remember editing some of the testimonials of the youth. Being undocumented my self, I initially refused to edit the videos: I did not want to facilitate anyone’s deportation, even if they had chosen to it themselves. My rationale was that, I supported them and wanted to get the DREAM Act passed, (Mind you, I was undocumented until I was 18) but I was unsupportive of their decision to get arrested. Except, my opinion didn’t matter, they were going to do the action regardless of my assistance or not. I was being a Wanksta.

Wanksta: Someone who says they are down, talk the talk, but when it comes down to doing the hard work and actually supporting a movement or group of people, they bail or are too busy or don’t actually do anything.

As undocumented youth I was being a bad ally.

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Trying to navigate a space of undocumented youth as someone who has their green card means having to acknowledge the fact that my privilege comes at their expense. That the only reason that I have more access to resources is because of my status. To be an ally to anyone means you have privileges that they don’t. This is probably the hardest thing for allies to understand. The very fact that we have status and that the people that allow us to work with them don’t, mean we participate and accept a system that allows for exclusion based on citizenship. Whether we like it or not, we benefit from undocumented people’s suffering. Wanting to “help” or working with them does not make an ally a better person. It is literally the least you could. Unless you are a Gangsta.

Gangsta: Someone who is in a “movement” in order to make gains (usually money) for themselves.

We see this all the time with nonprofits who stand to benefit from the suffering of undocumented people. It is in their best interest for immigration reform, the DREAM Act, or any sort of beneficial bill to undocumented communities, not to pass so that they can continue asking for the same type of funding year after year. Hey, these folks have to eat, remember! This is what is called the Nonprofit Industrial Complex. (Think of it as the Military Industrial Complex, minus the guns and more feelings.) The nonprofit sometimes goes out of their way to advocate against bills, like the DREAM Act in 2010, that result in failed legislation and the continued oppression of undocumented youth. Many nonprofits are tied to politicians, and will try to shame  undocumented youth who speak out out against the politicians unwilling to fully support them. Politicians are ultimately trying to get re-elected, and organizations are looking for funding. Sometimes these go hand in hand.

But then you have your Ridaz, who are allies who genuinely care and love.

Rida: Someone who is literally willing to take a bullet for the people they serve. They practice a praxis of cariño and love in all aspects of work.

Becoming a Rida is one of the most difficult things that someone can do to be involved. Being a Rida means that you put in work, when it is most inconvenient, when it hurts the most. It means loving the people that you work with, it means carrying out a praxis of cariño, that involves doing painful work: realizing your privileges, and then using them to other’s advantages, being very careful to not overstep boundaries, or feel that you are some sort of savior.. It means being a servant to the population you align yourself with. Ridaz genuinely care if people are unhappy with their work, and when are called out, do not take it as an offence, but as an opportunity to grow. It means belonging and living with the community you claim to work for.

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Eventually, I understood my role, and edited the videos. I was being asked to do this, I was given the privilege to do this. They weren’t asking for my permission to do anything. And this is something that as someone who is now an ally, must struggle with every time I am in a space for undocumented people. To work with undocumented people is a privilege. They are allowing me to be in that space. They are choosing to work me. And at any moment they can choose to not continue working with me. No matter how much I care about immigrant rights, no matter how much work I put in (or don’t put in) no matter how long I have been doing this type of work or how many laws I’ve helped pass, none of that matters if undocumented youth don’t want me to be in their spaces, then that’s it.

It is necessary for us, as allies, to recognize that the only reason we are allies is because undocumented people are oppressed. As allies, we must work to change. Sometimes, undocumented people will not like our work. Sometimes they will ask us to take a step back. Sometimes this will hurt our feelings, but it isn’t about our feelings. It about doing what a directly impacted group of people think is best, even if we disagree with it. Sometimes, undocumented people will not need or want us.

The opinions expressed in this blog post belong to the author alone and do not necessarily represent the views of the DREAM Team at NYU as an organization.

17581_10151428554799631_127281133_n Marco Galaviz is a Film & Television student at Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. He is a Core Member of  the Dream Team at NYU and a Core-in-training at the New York State Youth Leadership Council.

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