Over 20 undocumented youth risk arrest, deportation, stage sit-in at congressional offices on Capitol Hill
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
The Dream is Coming
For Immediate Release
Juan Escalante 407.602.8675
firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
Washington, D.C. Today, July 20th, over 20 undocumented immigrant youth from all over the country are risking arrest and deportation as they stage sit-ins at various congressional offices in Washington D.C. in order to urge congressional leadership to take action and pass the DREAM Act, a narrowly-tailored, bipartisan bill which would grant immigrant youth a path to citizenship. According to recent surveys by First Focus, 70% of the American public supports the DREAM Act.
They are holding sit-ins in the offices of the following elected officials: Senator Menendez, Senate majority leader Reid, Senator Feinstein, Senator McCain, and Senator Schumer.
Erika Andiola of Arizona states, “My parents sacrificed everything for me so I could pursue the American Dream. To deny my dreams is to deny the dreams of my parents. I’m doing this for them.” Andiola is a graduate of Arizona State University and holds a bachelor of arts in psychology.
After two months of coast-to-coast actions, including dozens of sit-ins, civil disobedience actions, and protracted hunger strikes by both undocumented youth and community members, they have decided to bring the cause of their lives to Washington D.C. The immigrant youth participating in today’s action hail from Illinois, Virginia, New York, California, Arizona, Kansas, Missouri, and Michigan.
Rosario Lopez of North Carolina states, “We have nothing to fear anymore except inaction. Our spirits grow stronger every day.” Lopez is a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, holds a bachelor of science in biology, and aspires to pursuing a PhD. In June, she participated in a 13-day hunger strike in front of Senator Hagan’s office.
Jose Torres of Texas states, “The DREAM Act is the critical first increment in a longer process of immigration reform. We’re here to fight for our dreams and the dreams of our communities.” Torres is a graduate of the University of Texas. He holds a bachelor of arts in business administration and aspires to attend law school.
At least 65,000 undocumented immigrant youth graduate from high schools every year, and many of them struggle to attend institutes of higher education and the military. The DREAM Act will grant youth who traveled to the United States before the age of 16 a path to citizenship contingent on continuous presence in the country, good behavior, and the attainment of at least a two-year university degree or a two-year commitment to the armed forces.
The DREAM is Coming project is a collaboration between multiple organizations, including the New York State Youth Leadership Council, the Immigrant Youth Justice League, Dream Team Los Angeles, Kansas Missouri Dream Alliance, Arizona Dream Act Coalition, the Orange County Dream Team, University Leadership Initiative of Texas, Virginia DreamActivist, and DREAMActivist.org.
To read the personal stories of the DREAMers, visit www.thedreamiscoming.com/meet-the-dreamers/
link to http://www.thedreamiscoming.com/2010/07/20/over-20-undocumented-youth-risk-arrest-deportation-stage-sit-in-at-congressional-offices-on-capitol-hill/
University of Houston-Downtown President William V. Flores voiced his desire for passage of the DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) this morning. He spoke on a conference call with college presidents from Northern Virginia Community College, Eastern Washington University and the University of California, Berkeley.
If passed by Congress, the DREAM Act would give undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children a shot at permanent residency status, provided they have lived in the country for at least five years without getting in trouble with the law, that they have a high school diploma or equivalency and that they commit to two years of college or military service. According to recent polling, it has widespread support among U.S. voters.
UH-Downtown plays host to about 13,000 students in the middle of, as Flores noted, a "very international city." Approximately 39 percent of the school's students are Hispanic, 29 percent are black, 22 percent white, 5 percent are Asian and 5 percent are international students. Flores said that about 200 or fewer students would be affected by the DREAM Act.
"Tragic" is the word Flores used to describe the plights of students who are held back due to residency status. Many, he said, often can't speak or read their native language because they immigrated at such a young age. He says the DREAM Act would provide a necessary pathway to achievement. "It would be a very unusual way of treating someone to not allow them to contribute," Flores said. "Many of them want to become teachers, doctors, or lawyers and contribute to this society."
On the call, supporters of the act said that while the odds of a congressional vote on more comprehensive immigration reform coming this year appear to be dwindling, it might be easier, in the meantime, to secure passage of the DREAM Act on its own given the bipartisan nature of its support.