Thursday, April 29, 2010

V.O.I.C.E. Solidarity Action
Trail of Dreams

Posted on April 28, 2010 by meagan

April 25, 2010

Rising Hope Methodist Church

Alexandria, Virginia

Robert Frost talked about the road not traveled in his poem that bears the same name. The poem ends like this:

“Two roads diverged in the woods and I took the one less traveled, and that has made all the difference”

Our four young people today are doing just that – They are taking the road not traveled.

Good afternoon. My name is Venus Miller. I am a VOICE leader from Mt. Olive Baptist Church and have spent over 30 years working as an administrator at Northern Virginia Community College. NOVA is one of the five largest community colleges in the nation with about 73,000 students. My whole life has been about education. It was my office that undocumented students came to discuss issues with tuition cost. It broke my heart to tell those young people they had to pay out of state tuition and they were not eligible for financial aid!

I am here today to stand in solidarity with Felipe, Gaby, Carlos and Juan - four brave students who represent millions of young people who were brought to the U.S. as children, and through no fault of their own, inherited the title of undocumented immigrant. As an educator and community leader, I believe as a society, we have a responsibility to provide all young people, regardless of immigration status, HOPE for the future and a CHANCE at education.

The undocumented students I have worked with at NOVA are active in their community. Many volunteer at community organizations ,at their churches, participate in school clubs and sports teams, and often work to help support their family. Yet they are not fully integrated into our society because of their immigration status and often fear deportation.

This afternoon, you will meet Felipe, Gaby, Carlos and Juan, and two of our own undocumented students from Northern Virginia. They are here today to tell you their own story in their own words.

There are an estimated 65,000 undocumented students graduating from American high schools each year. Many have grown up in mixed status families, with U.S citizen siblings and/or documented parents that have permanent roots in this country. Some have already been petitioned by their families, but continue to wait in line in a badly backlogged immigration system. These students strive to stay united to their families and to get a fair shake at the American Dream.

The students you will meet today are advocating for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented youth through a larger immigration reform bill that would include the DREAM Act.

These students were raised and educated through their high school years in the United States. They are the nation’s future innovators and entrepreneurs and will make up part of the educated workforce needed to help the U.S. compete in the global economy. In our globalized world, their uniqueness, multi-lin-gual ,bicultural skills, and contributions are more important than ever to the success and global competitiveness of the United States. No matter where you stand on this issue, I want it to be clear that none of these students partook in their families’ decision to come to the U.S., nor did they have any control over the economic conditions in their home countries that forced their parents to come here. They did not design our failed immigration system.

As you experience today’s action, I would like for you to consider the following questions, “Will you walk with them?” Do you want to be part of making sure students like them fulfill their potential? As state and local taxpayers, we have already invested in the education of these children in elementary and secondary school. I believe we deserve to get a return on our investment. I will take the road less traveled. Will you? Will you walk with them?

-By: Venus Miller

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