Cultura, Familia

From Tepeyac to Hacienda Heights

I was raised to be a Guadalupana.

This happened long before my parents met at the youth group at Assumption Church. I’m pretty sure it was before Mamá Toni learned to pray the Rosary or Grandpa made dad and his siblings kneel down to pray the rosary every night.

But I don’t know that far back. I just know that my affinity for La Virgen is undoubtedly influenced by my elders. My parents and grandparents rise at dawn on el Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe (or the Sunday preceding the 12th of December) to go pray and sing Las Mañanitas with other devotees at church. Mom typically dresses up in traditional clothes. Dad always takes his guitar as he’s part of the church choir.

When I was a kid, I slept through the early morning prayers, but would not miss 8 a.m. mass and the subsequent party at our home parish, St. John Vianney. Like my mom, I’d dress up in traditional clothes for mass, which was packed more than usual with hundreds of Guadalupanos. The church might have been more full than on Easter Sunday. Mass on la Virgencita’s feast day was festive. A mariachi would come and play “Las Mañanitas” as well as other songs like “La Guadalupana” with the regular choir. Aztec dancers would offer up their dance in the aisles and at the foot of the sanctuary. Sometimes there was even a reenactment of the story of la Virgen’s apparition to Juan Diego. There was no way I would nod off with sleepiness on la Virgen’s feast day.

After Mass, we’d proceed to the party at the O’Callaghan Center for delicious food, more music from the mariachi and dancing with my folkórico group.

I’ll be up early with my parents and grandparents tomorrow.

I miss the celebration.


DREAM Act passes in the House

AB 540 students with DREAMs

As I watched the DREAM Act debate on C-SPAN earlier today, I realized something. I’ve been writing, reading and thinking about this issue since I started grad school in 2004. My first paper for a class that quarter was on the history of the DREAM Act and AB 540. Before that, I had supported California’s AB 540 and pushed for the UC Regents to adopt it in 2001.

All that was before I became friends with undocumented students or worked directly with them. After getting to know students in this situation, my belief in the need for the DREAM Act grew.

Thus, seeing the DREAM Act come up for a vote tonight made me incredibly nervous. I was on edge as I listened to impassioned speeches on the House floor. I cheered when I heard strong remarks from supporters and was angered by the lies and misinformation spread by detractors.

I also felt my UCLA pride grow when I heard it mentioned by four different representatives. Rep. Zoe Lofren mentioned being moved by Tam Tran’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law in 2007. Rep. Judy Chu spoke about Ernesto a student who interned while in community college who was then admitted to UCLA. (Curiously, I saw a picture tweeted of him watching Rep. Chu mention him.) And there were two other representatives who mentioned the findings of a report from UCLA’s NAID Center on economic benefits of passing the DREAM Act.

When the final votes were counted and I saw the DREAM Act (HR 6497) passed 216-198, I cheered. My eyes may have watered a bit despite knowing that the fight goes on to the Senate now and knowing that the current DREAM Act isn’t what I’d like to see. It’s a watered down and harsher than past versions. Michael E. Hill explains:

Applicants for relief under the House-passed version of the DREAM Act would have to apply for that relief before reaching their 30th birthday and would have to pay $2,525 in “surcharges” in addition to the fee that the DHS sets for the cost of adjudicating their application. Under the House-passed bill, DREAM Act applicants would be ineligible for a host of federal educational assistance programs.

Still, the DREAM Act provides a path to citizenship to thousands of youth (albeit a long one). It’s the first time in almost 25 years Congress has voted to legalize anyone.

Congratulations to all those who worked so hard and put yourselves on the line for the DREAM Act. Your celebration is well deserved.

If you want to make some calls to Senators here’s scripts, phone numbers and targets.