“It was magical,” Itagui Correa, vocalist of Locos por Juana, says of the moment he became a U.S. citizen two years ago. “When they give you that green light, the dream becomes reality.”
Locos por Juana, a beloved Miami-based Grammy- and Latin Grammy-nominated bilingual Latin alternative fusion band, has teamed up with the Hispanic Heritage Foundation and Emmy-nominated filmmaker Milcho to develop the #WeDreamAmerica campaign, which recently released a Latinized interpretation of "The Star-Spangled Banner."
#WeDreamAmerica urges Congress to pass a clean DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) that will help an estimated 3 million undocumented immigrants who arrived in the States as children find a faster path to citizenship that doesn't involve their parents.
Earlier this fall, President Donald Trump rescinded DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), the Obama-era program that gave temporary protection to nearly 800,000 of the “DREAMers” who’ve become model citizens in U.S. society, representing veterans, entrepreneurs, owners, students, and an important part of the workforce in the STEM fields.
Although Trump gave Congress until March 2018 to figure out what’s next for DACA recipients, the pressure is on to push Congress to pass the DREAM Act before the holiday recess. #WeDreamAmerica is just one of a handful of campaigns created by the Latino community to address the issue in solidarity; a #DreamActNow rally, hosted by United We Dream, will take place in Washington, D.C., Wednesday, December 20.
Without the DREAM Act, DACA recipients and other DREAMers could face deportation to countries they’ve never known.
“One reason why I did this project is because I was a DREAMer myself,” Correa says. At the age of 9, he came from Colombia with his two sisters when his father escaped violence in the early '90s. “He brought us here for a better opportunity.”
Correa can relate to the Hispanic Heritage Foundation’s mission, part of which is to promote cultural pride, accomplishment, and the great promise of the Latino community.
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The single samples the lyric “home of the brave” over a cumbia beat and deliberately features an accordion. “That’s a German instrument, but it’s well known in Colombian norteña music. Different cultures are beautiful. That’s part of what we’re talking about: adaptation, acceptance, love, and sharing.”
The National Anthem, Correa says, is a beautiful piece of music that the band is modernizing to fit the role of Latinos in American history. “We’re a born-and-made-in-America band,” he notes. “We’re putting our feeling into the anthem, but respecting it.”
Although Latinos are writing their contributions to U.S. history, he adds, the #WeDreamAmerica anthem is for everyone who has come to the United States for a better life. “It doesn’t matter where you’re from or if you’re a Democrat or Republican,” he says. “We’re assuming a lot of things right now. There’s no communication. That’s when things go wrong. And we need to set an example. When we do that, the world changes.”
Correa, who has an 11-year-old daughter, is inspired by his role as a father and sets an example himself. “I always tell her how blessed she is to be born here, to have the opportunities other kids don’t have,” he says. “She knows that. She’s a straight-A student.”