Patt Morrison for March 16, 2012

'Coming Out' week for undocumented immigrants remains contentious

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Frank Stoltze/KPCC

Jaime Kim is one of many undocumented students who witnessed Governor Brown sign the California Dream Act at Los Angeles City College. The new law allows undocumented students access to privately financed scholarships at public colleges, but not public money. That's their next battle.

Last year, activists and advocates for undocumented immigrants in the United States repurposed gay activist Harvey Milk’s 1978 request to his city’s gay community – “you must come out” – by instituting a national “Coming Out of the Shadows” week.

What began as a week became a movement, with large numbers of youth and adults stepping forward and admitting to being in the U.S. illegally. This year’s National Coming Out of the Shadows week started Monday, March 10.

The movement is contentious for multiple reasons, and not just among those who would like undocumented immigrants to just “go home.” Some of the undocumented themselves feel pressured to come forward when it might not be in their best interest.

WEIGH IN:

If you are undocumented, how do you feel about this movement? Has a friend or co-worker surprised you by telling you that he or she is in the country illegally? Should youth who were involuntarily brought to the United States be given a break and allowed to become citizens? Is the United States too harsh with its immigration policies or not harsh enough?

Guests:

Leslie Berestein Rojas, KPCC’s Multi-American blogger

John Perez, 24, from Medellin, Colombia; he came out as gay four years ago, then as undocumented

Nancy Meza, 24, from Jalisco, Mexico; she came out as undocumented in 2009, a member of Dream Team Los Angeles

Louis A. Gordon, immigration attorney, Karlin & Karlin; political science professor, California State University San Bernardino


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