How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

'Coming out' undocumented: A Dream Act strategy becomes a rite of passage

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Last week in Orange County, a line of about two dozen young people snaked around the side of a meeting hall. Mostly college students, they awaited their turn at the podium in the front of the room. Some looked confident, others a little shaky. A girl with long brown hair stepped up to the microphone. "Hello, my name is Estefania," she began, "and I'm undocumented and unafraid."

What started as a small number of students going public with their immigration status grew into a movement in its own right last year, when passage of the federal Dream Act seemed like a possibility. It was a political strategy, the idea behind it to put a face to those whose lives would be affected by the legislation, which would have granted conditional legal status to qualifying young people brought to this country before age 16 if they went to college or joined the military.