Warning: video contains images some people may find disturbing.
Felipe Matos, Gaby Pacheco, Carlos Roa, and Juan Rodriguez weren't born in the United States. Their parents brought them to this country as children, looking for a land of opportunity. But all four—now in their 20s—found that their undocumented status stood in the way of drivers' licenses, student loans, access to jobs, and security for their families.
To share their stories—and those of millions of undocumented Americans—on January 1 they began a 5-month walk that will take them from their home in Miami to Washington, D.C., where they will advocate for passage of the Dream Act, a bill which would offer undocumented minors a pathway, through education or military service, to permanent residency status. They call their journey the Trail of Dreams.
To publicize their names and immigration status is a risk: all but Juan (whose mother helped him become a permanent resident last year) could face deportation and separation from their families. But they're not the only undocumented immigrants to take that chance. Inspired by the LGBT movement, the United We Dream Network last week hosted "Coming Out of the Shadows Week," encouraging people to let their friends and neighbors know what it's like to live the uncertain life of an undocumented immigrant. Tania Unzueta, one of eight immigrants who "came out" at a press conference in Chicago, told suburban Chicago's Daily Herald that speaking up is "scary on one hand, but it's also liberating. I feel like I've been hiding for so long." Similar events took place in cities around the country.
The walkers on the Trail of Dreams believe spreading the word about their situation is their best chance for changing it. "We are putting our futures in jeopardy because our present is unbearable," they say on their website.
To read the Trail of Dreams blog, click .
Detailed common-sense solutions to immigration issues from Enlaces América, a support center for Latino and Caribbean immigrant organizations based in Chicago, and the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC.
Justin Akers Chacón looks at conditions for those crossing the border, and at what happens to human rights for immigrants caught trying to cross.