Today, UCLA alumnae and immigration activists Tam Tran and Cinthya Perez died in a car accident in Maine. Though I knew neither personally other than having had a conversation with Cinthya in regards to why I had added her as a friend on Facebook, I feel that this post is necessary in a way that few others on this blog are.
Tam and Cinthya were enormously important to the Dream Act movement. They proved that undocumented immigrants can be successful and did what many of us should have been doing long ago – giving voice to those who could not speak for themselves. More importantly, they were a prime example of what can be accomplished with hard work and dedication, and served as a counter-argument to nativist cries that immigrants are detrimental to US interests.
Tam was a PhD student in American Civilization at Brown University and Cinthya was the first undocumented student to attend Columbia’s School of Public Health. Tam testified before Congress and her family was detained because she spoke up for her rights. I can’t imagine any individuals more important to US interests.
I’m echoing another blog post when I say let’s not forget Tam and Cinthya. Let’s remember that they were great women, not numbers in a system that refused to recognize them as such.
It’s a great, sad irony that this news comes to us only a couple of days before students all across the country receive their diplomas.
So long Tam. So long Cinthya. I celebrate your lives.