I wish most of us had the courage that people like Antonia have. Quite the opposite of anti-human teabaggers that wave signs of hate on corners. Thank you for being an example of real valiance for all of us, Antonia.
Best Illegal Immigrant - 2010
Antonia Rivera is just one of dozens of Orange County college students who have come out as illegal immigrants in the hope that such attention leads to passage of amnesty for them. But the Anaheim High School and UC Irvine graduate pushed the envelope further by getting arrested this summer on Capitol Hill for refusing to disperse while participating in a sit-in to protest Congress' failure to enact immigration reform. The soft-spoken Rivera's name and picture soon were plastered across anti-immigrant websites, all of which howled for her immediate deportation. But the gamble by Rivera and her fellow DREAM Act advocates seems to have paid off: The Obama administration has delayed proceedings against her while it mulls what to do with her ilk. She continues to appear in the media, an articulate, bilingual reminder to the world of how assimilated her foreign-born, American-raised peers really are.
Miss Rivera is an example of the byproduct of our exploitative economic system. How the label, ‘illegal’, is placed on people who are used by our economy for cheap labor, while at the same time they are kept invisible, by lowering their status as deserving humans beings.Miss Rivera's (as well as the other Dream Act supporters) courage, is characteristic of the 'American Dream' and of the people throughout the history of this nation who have stood by the US ideology of truth and justice for all, while at the same time putting their own lives at risk. Undocumented students and laborers are scapegoated for problems they have no influence over and blamed for economic inequities and shortfalls created by the increasing unequal redistribution of wealth, at the same time national corporations make great profits and pay out ever increasing dividends.. Blaming undocumented people distracts the public from the systemic imbalance of our economy and detracts from the source of the problems.Students, who have embraced the democratic system, and as so many people in our past, have brought this nation to a higher consciousness and closer to what our Constitution lays out for creating a more perfect union, deserve recognition as the loyal, motivated and intelligent members of our country that they demonstrate they are.Hate surrounding social justice is not new, but it must again be overcome by our national leaders and citizens, to provide the education and knowledge necessary to diminish the ignorance that promotes hate and fear as the American way.I stand with Antonia Rivera to better this nation today and in the future, I am humbled by the courage of this true American Hero and the other American heroes that put their lives at risk, not merely for themselves, but for everyone who believes that truth and justice are the American way and like Antonia, believe we must live up to that declaration to make it a reality.
John McDermottProfessor at CSUF