When labor unions, elected officials, and civil society groups assembled in Wilmington for the 32nd Annual Los Angeles Labor Day Parade and Rally, on September 5, 2011, one of the prominent groups was a large contingent from “Dream Summer,” a ten-week summer internship for undocumented student activists sponsored by the UCLA Labor Center, which has placed the students with social justice organizations.
The students, numbering approximately a hundred and all wearing tee-shirts emblazoned with the words “I Am Undocumented,” attended the Labor Day event as their “closing retreat for Dream Summer,” said Kent Wong, director of the UCLA Labor Center. “The students came from all over California, from Arizona, Florida, and New York.”
According to Wong, there are two million undocumented youth and students who have no legal status currently in the United States. “They were brought here as children. They’ve worked hard, and done everything they were asked to do. Some of them are in college – while others have already graduated – but because of our broken immigration system, they are unable to work.”
Wong explained that the participants in Dream Summer are fighting for passage of the federal DREAM Act, a law which – if passed – would provide a pathway to earned legal status for undocumented students who graduate from at least a two-year college, or who join the military.
Dream Summer, said Wong, “has been the first nationwide internship for undocumented youth, who worked in organizations from coast to coast, and proved what an amazing resource they are for the social justice movement. These are our future leaders, and we brought them out here to celebrate Labor Day with thousands of workers in Los Angeles.”