May 19, 2010

In loving memory of Tam Tran and Cinthya Felix

We are deeply saddened by the passing of Tam Tran and Cinthya Felix, two beloved champions for social justice who tragically passed away in Maine last Saturday. They were tireless advocates for the DREAM Act, federal legislation that would provide a higher education and pathway to citizenship for many of the nation’s best and brightest undocumented students.

Tam was featured in and helped produce the DREAM Act documentary Underground Undergrads: UCLA Undocumented Immigrant Students Speak Out. Additionally, she testified before Congress in 2007 on the need for the DREAM Act. As a leader in Improving Dreams, Equality, Access and Success (IDEAS) at the University of California, Los Angeles, Tam helped push USSA towards being a more active supporter of the DREAM Act.

USSA honors and celebrates the lives of these two amazing DREAMers and our thoughts are with their friends and families. Tam and Cinthya will live on in the selfless and courageous organizing by undocumented and documented students alike on behalf of the DREAM Act and broader immigrant justice.

Donate to Tam and Cinthya’s Memorial Funds:

Tam was born in Germany after her parents were forced to flee Vietnam. She immigrated to the U.S. and grew up in Garden Grove, California. She graduated from Santiago High School, attended Santa Ana College, and transferred to UCLA, where she earned a bachelor's degree in American Literature and Culture. In 2007, Tam testified before a House subcommittee on immigration and advocated on behalf of the proposed Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. As a doctoral student in the American Civilization program at Brown University, she helped found the Brown Immigrants' Rights Coalition. Tam was an aspiring filmmaker, and produced several short films, including the acclaimed documentary, "Lost and Found."

Cinthya emigrated from Mexico and grew up in East Los Angeles, California where she attended and graduated from Garfield High School. She pursued higher education at UCLA, where she earned bachelor's degrees in English World Literature and Spanish Literature, with a minor in Mexican Studies. At UCLA, Cinthya was a founding member of Improving Dreams, Equality, Access and Success (IDEAS), one of the nation's first and largest undocumented student advocacy groups. In 2007, she became the first undocumented student admitted to Columbia University's School of Public Health. Cinthya's dream was to attend medical school and eventually return to her community as a physician.

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