I’m not big on symbolic acts. For example, candlelight vigils, no matter how noble the cause, tend to annoy me. And when I was Catholic, I could never figure out how abstaining from meat on Fridays was anything other than a mild gesture that was unlikely to appease an omnipotent being.

So when I heard about the Dream Walkers, I was dubious. Now I certainly didn’t doubt their sincerity and courage, but I questioned whether their strategy would lead to anything meaningful.

The Dream Walkers, in case you don’t know, are four Latino college students from Florida who pledged to walk the fifteen hundred miles from Miami to Washington DC in order to raise awareness for the Dream Act (see my previous post on this). The students also want the government to step up on immigration reform.

Besides getting them some exercise, I wasn’t sure this interstate marathon was going to be too productive. However, the students have thus far completed their trek to DC, met with Valerie Jarret (one of President Obama’s top advisors), garnered publicity and conducted multiple interviews to educate people about the Dream Act, and even coaxed a hug out of Sherriff Joe Arpaio. That last one freaks me out.

Currently, the Dream Walkers are on stage two of their campaign. They are travelling to immigrant communities, where they will document the horrors of our messed-up immigration system. They will collect testimonials about botched deportation procedures and terrifying raids, then return to Washington DC to present their findings.

I don’t know where the students will end up, or how long they will be on the road. I also don’t know what the result of all their hard work will be.

But so far, the four of them have accomplished a hell of a lot more than even the largest candlelight vigil.