The President’s remarks came on the heels of a January 27, 2013 announcement that a bipartisan “Gang of Eight” senators agreed upon a framework for immigration reform.“We still don’t have a functioning immigration system,” their proposal reads. “This has created a situation where up to 11 million undocumented immigrants are living in the shadows.”
Who exactly are these 11 million undocumented people living among us? Perhaps not the sneaky, fence –hopping immigrants you might expect. Obama described the situation like this:
Right now, we have 11 million undocumented immigrants in America; 11 million men and women from all over the world who live their lives in the shadows. Yes, they broke the rules. They crossed the border illegally. Maybe they overstayed their visas. Those are facts. Nobody disputes them. But these 11 million men and women are now here. Many of them have been here for years. And the overwhelming majority of these individuals aren’t looking for any trouble. They’re contributing members of the community. They’re looking out for their families. They’re looking out for their neighbors. They’re woven into the fabric of our lives.
Of the 11 million undocumented immigrants, there’s a special cohort of about 2 million individuals known as DREAMers, young people who were brought across the border, often unknowingly, as children. These undocumented young people have gone to school and grown up as Americans in every respect; the only difference between a DREAMer and her American classmate is that a DREAMer lacks a piece of paper stating she’s a citizen.
It’s hard to find the right words to describe the painful situation in which America’s DREAMers find themselves. To hear first-hand accounts from these undocumented young people, check out John X. Carey’s video Illegal (below).