LOS ANGELES — Yamilex Rustrian, 7, crossed the dessert with her sister to get to this country; she was also kidnapped for 10 days. “I have lived always in fear of being picked up. When I received DACA, I was able to get a driver’s license, go to school and work to help my family. I no longer live in the shadows, but my parents remain in limbo because politics keeps playing with their lives.”
She announced at a recent press conference here that on July 27 the Dream Riders Across America campaign will kick off a national 12-day bus tour to uplift the voices of Asian-American and Pacific Islander immigrant youth as they build power across the country with Latino and African-American youth in seven key states in the southern region of the United States.
The 2015 bus tour is round two of the Dream Riders Across America campaign — hitting the road to educate communities about the experiences and contributions of immigrant families, build meaningful relationships with immigrant and people-of-color communities, and activate fellow youth to be leaders for change.
The National Korean-American Service and Education Consortium, the Korean Resource Center, the Korean American Resources and Cultural Center, Service Employees International Union and SEIU-United Service Workers West announced the campaign at a press conference on July 2 here and in Chicago and Annandale, Va. Dream Riders and Children Over Politics leaders who will join the bus tour were at the press conferences.
The riders will call on youth to join in the fight and vote out of office politicians who are blocking a just immigration reform bill in the upcoming presidential elections. “This hate must stop; immigrants are not criminals or rapists but dreamers for a better future. We will travel across the south and if politicians don’t listen to us now they will have to deal with us and our vote in 2016,” said Rustrian.
Alejandra Valles, Secretary-Treasurer of SEIU United Service Workers West, said: “SEIU has chosen to send members of Children Over Politics to be a part of the Dream Riders Bus Tour because they are the faces and the stories of why the DACA expansion and the DAPA are needed. The impact they will have as they educate and register voters in the Southern states will help blaze a pathway to citizenship for all.”
David Han, a Korean DACA fellow, recounted that at the age of 2 he came with his mother and siblings. “She brought us here for a better life,” he said. His family could not get legal status and he became aware that he was undocumented when he attempted to get a job while in high school. This caused him to become demoralized; he stopped trying in school and even dropped out. “There was a moment where I realized that my story was powerful and can make a difference instead of being ashamed so I stand here no longer afraid. I want to raise the visibility of undocumented Asian Americans through this bus tour, we can make a difference and inspire change among the youth. I want to prove to people that immigrants give more than they take. ” said Han.
Ixchel Hernandez, a DACA recipient, came at the age of four to this country. “As children of immigrants we have the responsibility to give back what we have received.” Things that Donald Trump has said are not true as well as other stereotypes that target immigrant people,” said Hernandez. “I’m excited to be on this caravan because going to the South and registering youth to vote we will be breaking a cycle and bring up the issue of the racism that still exists.”
#dreamriders Follow their tour at dreamriders.us.
Photo: Rossana Cambron/PW