The introduction of the Dream Act S.1291 in 2001 has sparked a nation-wide, student-led movement advocating for the passage of the bill. The movement members, who have been called “Dream Activists” and “Dreamers”, advocate for education centered immigration reform that would provide students with a path towards citizenship given that they complete an Associate’s Degree or provide two years of service to the military. Undocumented students make up the majority of the Dream Activists but, without a power to vote, this group is without real representation in our nation’s politics. Through traditional and nontraditional forms of protest heavily reliant on their projected identity as students, the Dream Activists movement has directed its focus at gaining political strength by coming into solidarity with members outside of its core constituents. The Dream Activists have primarily been composed of Latin American and Latino/a students living in the United States, but the movement also has outspoken representatives from various other nationalities, as they are also affected by strict immigration laws. In the media the Dream Act has similarly been associated as a Latino Movement, however, despite their national origins, Dream Activists have projected themselves to the public and the state as a homogenous group identity of American students. Their assertion of their American identity despite their lack of American documentation or birth in the U.S. forces us to rethink how nationalism creates a set of guidelines for being an American such as English speaking, American acculturated, patriotic, etc. yet, even when all of these are met, students who are all but American in name are still cast out of the nation and prohibited from pursuing higher education in the U.S.
The borderlands regions as a physical space serves as a metaphor for the same limits of nationalism that these students are facing. U.S. segregated education districts demonstrate how receiving a good education relies heavily upon one’s locality. The Borderlands space further accentuates the importance of not only one’s place of residence, but also one’s acceptance into the nation. While Mexicans can most certainly flourish within Mexican institutions of higher learning, for Mexicans who were raised in the United States, language barriers would certainly play detrimental roles if their only means towards pursuing a College/University education could be found within the Mexican side of the border.