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Gay Iranian American Risks Deportation to Raise Awareness of Plight of Undocumented Youth

July 23, 2010

While no progress is made on immigration reform because of the extreme and polarized dialogue on the national stage, and opening that leaves for radical action like we saw in Arizona, real lives are being destroyed.  Like Mohammad Abdollahi, who is risking deportation to Iran where he could face torture or execution for being gay,  and participated in a sit-in in Sen. McCain’s office.  He’s part of a new campaign about the legislation called DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors).

Here’s an excerpt from his letter to President Obama.  You can read the full thing and get a bit more information at AMERICAblog Gay:

Dear Mr. President,

My name is Mohammad Abdollahi and I am an undocumented immigrant.  Two months ago I made history.   On May 17, according to the New York Times, I become one of the first undocumented students, along with two others, to “have directly risked deportation in an effort to prompt Congress to take up [the DREAM Act].” Risking deportation was no small act for me. Not only did I risk being forcibly removed from United States, the only country I know as my home, to Iran, where I don’t know the culture or the language. I also happen to be gay. In Iran, people like me are tortured and executed. I am still at risk of deportation and execution, right now, and I will continue to be at risk until the DREAM Act is passed.

I took this risk because I had no choice. For all of my life, my future has been held hostage by politicians, both Democrat and Republican, who have used me as a political football. My family immigrated to the United States from Iran when I was just three years old. Undocumented immigrants are often told, “get in line!” without knowing that many of us were at one point in this infamous line. My family was “in line” until an immigration attorney miscalculated the processing fee for an H1-B visa by $20 dollars and our application was rejected. The second attorney my family hired to fix the application spent his time bickering with the old attorney instead of informing my parents that they only had 60 days to appeal our rejected application. The deadline came and went and we became undocumented.

I’ve known I was undocumented for a long time, but I still graduated from high school. While working to pay out-of-state tuition, I was able to earn my Associate’s degreein Health and Human Services from Washtenaw College. When I had enough credits, I applied to Eastern Michigan University. I handed a counselor there my transcript and he said, “Mohammad, you are the kind of student we want at this university.” He then handed me an acceptance letter. I was in.

I looked at this letter and thought of my mother. With this piece of paper, I could go to my mother and tell her that she didn’t have to stay up late crying anymore. She didn’t have to blame herself anymore. She hadn’t done her children wrong by bringing them to this country. I could tell her it was all worth it. Then, the counselor brought back his supervisor, who told me that they could not accept me because I “needed to be in a line to get in”. The counselor then reached over his desk and took my acceptance letter from me.

The “DREAM Now Series: Letters to Barack Obama” is a social media campaign that launched Monday, July 19, to underscore the urgent need to pass the DREAM Act. The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, S. 729, would help tens of thousands of young people, American in all but paperwork, to earn legal status, provided they graduate from U.S. high schools, have good moral character, and complete either two years of college or military service.  With broader comprehensive immigration reform stuck in partisan gridlock, the time is now for the White House and Congress to step up and pass the DREAM Act!

The “DREAM Now” letter series is inspired by a similar campaign started by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network for the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Every Monday and Wednesday DREAM-eligible youth will publish letters to the President, and each Friday there will be a DREAM wrap-up.  If you’re interested in getting involved or posting these stories on your site, please email Kyle de Beausset at kyle at citizenorange dot com.

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