Picture Show: Following the DREAM Act
An estimated 65,000 illegal immigrants graduate from U.S. high schools each year.
Youth at a rally in front of the White House demand for the end of deportation by Immigration, Customs, and Enforcement.
Following a mock graduation ceremony, undocumented youth activists, as well as supporters of the contentious bill, make their way to Capitol Hill.
Rosario Lopez (right), an undocumented "Dream University" student from North Carolina, had been involved with the unsuccessful movement to get the DREAM Act passed by August 4, the day Congress went out of session.
Dozens of undocumented students are arrested for refusing to leave their sit-in in the Hart Senate Office building.
Diana Martinez, 18, an undocumented student, was one of 12 arrested after refusing to leave the sit-in.
Yahaira Carrillo consoles her fellow activist, Andrea, after she backed out of being arrested inside the Hart Senate Office building.
Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), one of the biggest champions of the bill, at a rally near the White House, demands the passing of immigration reform.
Student activists rejoice after some of the arrested have been let go by Capitol Police.
Francisco Curiel (who is undocumented) and Jessica Sanchez blow off some steam after a long day of actions and activities in downtown Washington, D.C.
Many of these undocumented youth didn't decide to immigrate to the United States—they came at an early age with their parents. Without a pathway to citizenship many would have studied and lived in the country with little opportunity for future success.
Manuel Guerra Casas, 26, a Floridian who would benefit from the Dream Act, says he wants to become a priest and would be willing to serve in the armed forces. The DREAM Act would provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented youth after they have received a higher education or served honorably in the military.
Protestors in Congressman Paul Ryan's office (R-WI) are read a message by his aide saying that he "does not condone illegal behavior." Ryan, once onboard with the bill, is currently against it.
Tensions run high in Congressman Paul Ryan's (R-WI) during a symbolic sit-in during the lame duck session in Congress following the midterm elections of 2010.
On Thursday, December 9, 2010, one day after the DREAM Act passed in the House, the Senate voted to table the discussion until the following week. It's another setback for the effort to create a path to citizenship for undocumented young people who complete either two years of military service or attain a college degree.
Since the summer of 2010, the photographer Mark Abramson has been following the ongoing story of the DREAM Act, collecting images of young people who have "come out" about their immigrant status. "I originally was sent on a quick assignment by the Washington Post to cover some of the rallies in front of the White House," says Abramson. "I wanted to learn more about these undocumented youth that were coming out and speaking about their status openly. I followed them everywhere for weeks. They were gracious enough to let me in to their residencies and document their lives and follow them around the city.
"After leaving D.C. at the end of the summer to go and work in Milwaukee, I continued to follow the movement and report from the Midwest for the Journal Sentinel. This is an ongoing personal project that I plan on evolving and growing."
What follows is a selection of photographs from Mark Abramson's ongoing series, DREAM.