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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Beyond the Dreamer Narrative – Undocumented Youth Organizing Against Criminalization and Deportations in California


When a group of undocumented migrants blocked a road in San Bernardino, California, in the summer of 2011, it was at first sight one out of many events organized by the protest movement of undocumented youth. While they marched down the road and started their action of civil disobedience, they were chanting “education not deportation” and wore academic caps and t-shirts with the campaign slogan “The DREAM is coming” as a reference to higher education and the federal DREAM Act . On the one hand, they were thus continuing the activism of the undocumented youth movement, which became nationally known because of its struggle for the rights of students without legal status in the US since its inception in the early 2000s (cf. Nicholls 2013; Corrunker 2012; Anguiano 2011; Unzueta/Seif 2014; Seif 2014; Costanza-Chock 2014; Eisema/Fiorito/Montero-Sieburth 2014; Negron-Gonzales 2014, 2015). On the other hand, this direct action was symbolic of a shift in the movement that heavily impacted the political practice of groups, coalitions and alliances of undocumented youth in California over the last years.

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