DREAM Leaders Gear Up for Immigration Battle

600 young people head to Kansas City this weekend.

November 28, 2012, 11:52 AM

Nov. 28, 2012— -- More than 600 Dreamers will gather this weekend in Kansas City, Missouri, to debrief after a year that has seen one of the biggest immigration policy changes in decades.

The United We Dream National Congress will give young undocumented leaders across the country a chance to discuss the impact of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, instituted by President Obama this summer. The program allows qualifying young people without papers to live and work legally in the U.S. More than 50,000 Dreamers have been approved for the program to date, and nearly 300,000 more applicants are in line.

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"I think this is going to be the first time that we as a movement are going to be able to talk about the victory that DACA was and sort of walk down memory lane and see what we had to do to get to that point," said Pamela Reséndiz, a 24-year-old activist and recent college graduate from Austin, Texas. "We're going to have to reflect on the successes that we've had, on the lessons that we've learned."

United We Dream is the largest network of undocumented youth across the country, according to organizers, and the yearly congress serves as a check-in of sorts where activists can also strategize for the coming year.

Much has changed since the last gathering in 2011. After years of rallies, hunger strikes and vigils by Dreamers organizing for deportation relief, President Obama issued an executive order to stay Dreamer deportations in June.

In addition to the DREAM Act, this year's agenda will likely include conversations about immigration reform and a pathway to citizenship for 11 million people.

"A lot of our leaders are really feeling that from this moment of power we need to be bold about the next step," said Cristina Jiménez, managing director of United We Dream.

The direct tone -- characteristic of the Dream movement -- will also be reflected in the branding of the event: When posting to social media this weekend, attendees will use the hashtag #DreamWarrior.

The passage of DACA, after years of organizing, has brought energy to the movement, according to Jiménez. "People are really feeling a renewed sense of this power."

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