The Common Good

Crowds Erupt in Praise as Obama Announces Immigration Policy Change

James Colten / Sojourners
Groups rally outside the White House, celebrating Obama's decision. James Colten / Sojourners

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode? 
  -- Langston Hughes

Dreams came alive today as President Obama granted relief to thousands of undocumented students. While the decision does not create a pathway to citizenship, it eliminates the threat of deportation for many unauthorized students and makes them eligible for work permits. 

Sponsored by Casa de Maryland, a number of organizations—Amnesty International, Jews United for Justice, 32BJ SEIU, National Council of La Raza, and the National Gay & Lesbian Taskforce—participated in a rally in front of the White House to celebrate the president’s announcement. 

The joy and excitement was palpable as DREAMers—supporters of the DREAM Act—shared what this day means to them. 

“Regardless of my status, I am an American,” Melanie, one of the attendees, said. “Education should not be a dream or a privilege, but a right for those who want to further themselves.”

For Jorge, waking up this morning and hearing about the new immigration policy “was something out of a movie.” But this is just the beginning. “We’re not going to stop until we get the DREAM Act passed, and everyone can sleep without the fear of deportation.”

As one activist said best, “This is long overdue. This is the right thing. This is the humane thing to do, but there’s more to do.”

Much work remains as we seek comprehensive immigration reform. But today, we pause to give thanks to God—to celebrate with our neighbors—and join our youth in dreaming of a better tomorrow. 


Elaina Ramsey is an Associate Editor of Sojourners magazine. James Colten is Campaigns Assistant at Sojourners.

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