- Organizers hope that by sharing their stories, leaders and policymakers will understand that these DREAMers are Americans.
To raise awareness and highlight the many obstacles that South Asian Dreamers face, IMPACT has launched an essay contest – “We Are Home.” There are over 250,000 South Asian Dreamers, IMPACT estimates, who face “constant uncertainty over their status, the threat of deportation, and limited opportunities for employment, scholarships and financial aid.”
The term DREAMer has emerged as a way to describe undocumented or documented immigrants who grew up in the United States as children but do not have a path to citizenship.
“For far too long, both undocumented and documented South Asian DREAMers have been overlooked in the immigration debate,” says Neil Makhija Executive Director of the Indian American Impact Project.
“Our immigration laws still manifest the remnants of exclusionary quotas of the 1920s that were designed to keep Asians out of the United States,” IMPACT says.
“While there is technically a ‘pathway’ for Indian immigrants on long-term visas to get citizenship, the pathway is 195 years long, due to the quotas or ‘country caps’ in our green card process,” it noted. “The children of these immigrants, by age 21, must leave the only place that they’ve ever known as home.”
IMPACT hopes that by sharing their stories, “leaders and policymakers will understand that these DREAMers are Americans.”
Founded in 2016 to help Indian Americans run for office, win, and lead, IMPACT has grown to become the leading national organization mobilizing South Asian communities and electing leaders to public office at the local, state, and federal levels. IMPACT and its affiliated organizations are focused on civically engaging the Indian American diaspora and building long-term power among historically excluded communities.
According to Dip Patel, a documented Dreamer and founder of Improve the Dream, “documented Dreamers and other young immigrants who have been raised and educated here as Americans, have been forced to grow up without the same opportunities as our peers. Growing up as Documented Dreamers, we cannot work, qualify for FAFSA, student loans, in-state tuition, and many scholarships. These obstacles hurt us in our pursuit of our American Dream.”
Applicants should write, in 750 words or less, an essay that conveys how your status as a Dreamer has affected your life, goals, and view of what citizenship in America means to you.
First-place winners will receive a cash scholarship of up to $5,000. Finalists will be invited to Washington, D.C. for an event with special guests.
For more information, visit https://www.iaimpact.org/essaycontest
(Top photo, courtesy Padma Danturty, a Documented Dreamer.)