NIU DREAMs on, 10 years unafraid


Sean Reed

Students marching toward MLK Commons on campus. DREAM Action NIU held its 10th annual Coming Out of the Shadows event on April 12. (Sean Reed | Northern Star)

By Kaitlyn Lee-Gordon, News Reporter

DeKALB – “Undocumented and unafraid!” were the words chanted during DREAM Action NIU’s 10th annual Coming Out of the Shadows event to encourage fearlessness and strength for undocumented students.

DREAM Action NIU is a student-led organization whose goal is to increase awareness of the struggles endured by undocumented students. The organization believes that higher education is a right for all and provides undocumented students with scholarships.

Alberto Briones, graduate assistant for DREAM Action NIU, has stated that the Coming Out of the Shadows event is held in honor of the march of undocumented immigrants that took place over a decade ago in downtown Chicago.

“It’s basically following the tradition created 13 years ago back to March 10, 2010. On that day, undocumented youth declared their status at the Federal Plaza in Chicago,” Briones said. “It’s an event that’s inspired by the Civil Rights Movement of the ‘60s, the LGBTQ movement and past immigrant right marches.”

The event featured literary works by undocumented students and allies that expressed the challenges that those without citizenship face. The speeches and poems prepared by students and faculty addressed the courage and strength it takes to be undocumented, along with the stress that follows.

Jessica Almanza, a senior nursing major, said that this matter was quite personal for her and that she believes all people should be given equal opportunity.

“I come from a family who happens to be undocumented, so it’s close to my heart,” Almanza said. “I think everyone should be able to pursue whatever their dream is, whether that’s to go to university or not.”

The event concluded with a community march with students holding signs that read “Drop the I-word” and “Protection for all.” Students and faculty gathered in solidarity to demand equal opportunity and support for all people regardless of citizenship status.

Elizabeth Torres, a junior accounting major, said that her reason for attending the event was to showcase her support as an ally.

“This is something that I truly believe in. There are so many inequalities in this world, and so many people experience these obstacles, whether it be from healthcare or education or anything in between,” Torres said. “It really hurts people that aren’t even undocumented, and it just sucks that people have to go through struggles that not everybody goes through.”