by Félix Pérez
“Art has the ability to inspire and to speak to people’s emotions and senses in a way that nothing else can,” said Oakland, California-based artist Favianna Rodriguez. The emotion in this case, explained Rodriguez, is hope — hope for the more than 2 million children, students and young people who were brought here as children and who dream of belonging to the only country they call home.
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Educators and other advocates for children and their families are being asked to share Rodriguez’s representation of the monarch butterfly — symbolic of migration — in their classroom, workplace, home, place of worship, local coffee shop or any place their neighbors gather. The art was created to be shared easily through social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.
When DREAMers see the vibrant image, said Rodriguez, “I hope they understand there is a community and people who care and stand with them in solidarity. Their story is a beautiful and positive story, of resiliency of the human spirit.”
Educators, like the creative community, play outsized roles in providing DREAMers a space where they are encouraged to be themselves, continued Rodriguez. “Anyone who teaches a young person inherently believes in universal human rights. And schools are a place where values are taught and reinforced. But when you have an immigration crisis” that affects DREAMers, “it disrupts the students’ learning.”
Rodriguez’s “DREAMers Welcome” image comes just days before the full Senate will begin debate on the first bipartisan immigration bill in more than 25 years. The landmark bill — which provides DREAMers a five-year path to citizenship, improves family unification safeguards and lays out several conditions for a 13-year roadmap to citizenship for non-DREAMers — seeks to overhaul an immigration system universally recognized as dysfunctional.
Beginning today, the National Education Association is hosting a national call-in day (1-866-632-6057) to encourage educators and others to call their senators and encourage them to support DREAMers, their families and the comprehensive bill.
You know the names of these beautiful DREAMers. Those of us employed in a public school know their families. We know their hopes. We know their fears. The fear of deportation lives with them. Fear sits at the table with them. Fear peeks over their shoulders as they do their homework. Fear sleeps on the pillows they put their heads on each night.
Eskelsen added, “Even kindergarten children understand, as no child should ever have to understand, that they might come home some day to an empty house because of an immigration raid at their parents’ workplace. They understand that a big sister may be here without documents and a little brother may have been born here, a citizen. They know their big sister can be sent away without a chance to say goodbye.”