We have all suffered a tragic loss this week in the untimely passing of “Dreamer” Joaquin Luna. Joaquin was an 18-year old senior at Juarez Lincoln High School in Mission, Texas. He had aspirations of going to college and becoming an engineer so that he could improve his family’s life. Because of the failure of the Dream Act to pass in Congress almost one year ago, Joaquin had lost hope. On Friday, November 25 around 9 p.m., he dressed up in a suit and tie, kissed his family, and shot himself in the restroom with a small handgun.
Joaquin left suicide letters indicating that he was troubled by his immigration status. In the words of his mother, Santa Lerma Mendoza, “He was saying he was going to do this because he wasn’t going to be able to continue with his college.”
Suicide is never the right response for any of us, but this tragedy reveals the incredible desperation and lack of hope that many undocumented students feel. As Proverbs 13:12 states:
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”
Tragically, two million undocumented students in the United States are currently trapped in a legal, political, and social limbo with little hope because of the failure of Congress to pass the Dream Act one year ago.
May we pause to reflect upon the terrible tragedy of Joaquin’s passing. May we dignify his memory by making sure that his story is told, and by doing all within our power to pass the Dream Act.
Robert Chao Romero is an Assistant Professor in the UCLA César E. Chávez Department of Chicana/o Studies and Department of Asian American Studies. He received his J.D. from U.C. Berkeley and his Ph.D. in Latin American History from UCLA. He is the author of The Chinese in Mexico, 1882-1940 and various articles related to race in Latin America and the United States. He is Founder and President of Christian Students of Conscience, a ministry devoted to training and mobilizing university students around issues of race and justice from a biblical perspective (http://www.cscrevolution.org).
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