Category Archives: Youth

DREAM Act vote scheduled for tomorrow

Tomorrow, the House of Representatives will vote on the DREAM Act, a piece of legislation that would provide a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented youth.

Dial 866-967-6018 and we will connect you with your Representative. Tell them to vote YES on the DREAM Act.

Listen to stories of undocumented youth from the We Are America stories project:

The DREAM Act would provide a pathway to citizenship for youth like Michael who arrived in the United States with his parents at a young age.  Without the DREAM Act, millions of youth like Michael will not be able to meaningfully contribute to our nation.

The DREAM Act enjoys strong support across party lines. In fact, 66% of voters support the DREAM Act. And according to a 2010 study by the UCLA North American Integration and Development Center, the total earnings of DREAM Act beneficiaries over the course of their working lives would be between $1.4 trillion and $3.6 trillion, all taxable income to support America’s sagging economy. The bottom line is that our nation benefits from retaining the skills and talent of these youth and the majority of Americans understand this.  It just makes sense.

Dial 866-967-6018 and we will connect you with your Representative. Tell them to vote YES on the DREAM Act.


Week of Action for the DREAM Act

Today, immigrant activists kicked off a week of action to push for the DREAM Act after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced that it would be attached to a major defense bill.  The DREAM Act would provide a pathway to citizenship for thousands of undocumented students. And, it would pave the way for more reform.  Since the announcement, other legislative leaders have stepped up in support for passage of the DREAM Act along with President Obama.

Now, immigrant activists are ramping up pressure to the U.S. Senate to make sure the DREAM Act is passed.

Check out their press conference here:

Speakers include:

Carlos Saavedra, United We DREAM Coalition – moderator
Angie Kelley, vice president for immigration policy and advocacy, Center for American Progress
Pramila Jayapal, founder and executive director, OneAmerica
Lindsay McCluskey, president of US Student Association
Yahaira Carrilo, The DREAM is coming
Tolu Olubumni, DREAM student
Felipe Matos, Trail of DREAMs

The Reform Immigration FOR America campaign lists way that you can support passsage of the DREAM Act.

Click here to call your Senator

Or use the numbers below to send a message to your Senator:

English: 866-996-5161
Spanish: 866-961-4293

Click here for more resources on the DREAM Act.

Senator Durbin: change takes courage – just ask immigrant youth!

Tomorrow, in Chicago, hundreds of immigrant youth will meet in Union Park to for a National “Coming Out” Day (part of National Coming out week led by the United We Dream Coalition).  Led by the Immigrant Youth Justice League, in partnership with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, tomorrow’s action is aimed at pressuring Senator Dick Durbin to show active leadership in passing comprehensive immigration reform and the Dream Act.

From the IYJL site:

This action is a call for leadership from Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), who has worked for and promised the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform for years. Now, as the Senate’s second-ranking leader, he is in a position to deliver. As our senator, and a long-time supporter of immigrant youth, we need him to lead on the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform this year.

“We cannot wait any more. Not while our parents are getting deported and our youth’s dreams fall apart due to an obsolete immigration system that has failed us and the country. I have supported Senator Durbin and President Obama, and now we need them to act. This country cannot wait anymore, we will not wait any longer,” said Ireri, IYJL member.

While the White House has delayed yet another meeting on immigration reform, the grassroots movement for immigrant rights is growing restless and impatient. Yesterday, this was tweeted from the IYJL twitter account:

When u are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness” then u will understand why we find it difficult 2 wait.

For lawmakers, and even for some advocates, this issue is simply political: the “right” time, the “right” climate, the number of votes, the mid-term elections. But for youth who are stuck in the shadows of a country that is failing to recognize them as full people, there is no right time and there is no right climate: it’s now or nothing.

So, Senator Durbin, the immigrant youth of this movement understand that change takes courage. They are risking everything to come out and stand up for justice. Will you show this same courage and lead?

Tell Senator Durbin that change takes courage>>

Photos courtesy of ICIRR and IYJL.

Rigo Padilla’s Deportation Halted!

From the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights blog.

Today, December 10th, we got some great news. Rigo Padilla’s deportation has been deferred.

This victory is due to the unified support for Rigo by Chicago municipal, state, and federal elected officials; the University of Illinois at Chicago community; youth, immigrant advocates, community and faith leaders. People across the Presidents hometown of Chicago and from around the country lifted their voices to end this senseless deportation and move towards just and humane immigration reform.

The campaign to stop Rigo’s deportation exemplifies two things. Our immigration system is broken and that we have the power to fix it.

It is important to remember that Rigo is just one of many trapped by our broken immigration system with no path to legalization. The case of Rigo Padilla illustrates what is wrong with current immigration laws. Deportations have increased by 18% under the Obama administration. Most deportations are for minor immigration violations without regard for the circumstances surrounding each case. Lack of discretion has led to senseless deportation of hundreds of thousands of immigrants who have been contributing members of this society: people who work, pay taxes, and own homes.

Most appalling are the deportations of young people who have lived a significant portion of the lives in the United States. Rigo is such an example. He was brought to Chicago by his parents at age 6, and has lived in Chicago for the past 15 years. During this time, Rigo has been deeply involved in the community, volunteering, studying, working and in general making Chicago a better place.

“The case of Rigo Padilla shows why we need to reform current immigration laws and implement a path through which immigrants like Rigo can earn their legal status,” said Joshua Hoyt, Executive Director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR). “The U.S. is on pace to deport more than 400,000 immigrants this year. Families are destroyed, the labor market is churned, homes are foreclosed, and communities are damaged. We cannot fix the broken immigration system in a case by case basis. We will continue to push for comprehensive solutions that will end family separation and will provide a path to citizenship for those that work hard and contribute to this country.”

View ICIRR’s statement here.

Representative Luis Gutierrez will be introducing an immigration reform bill in the house later this month, with a bill most likely being introduced into the Senate shortly after that.

Everyone knows that our immigration system is broken. Now is the time to fix it. Join us in the national campaign to Reform Immigration for America.

One step closer to stopping Rigo’s deportation

Originally posted at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights blog.

Today, December 4th, elected officials including U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky (IL-9), State Representative Greg Harris (D-13) and Chicago Alderman George Cardenas (12th ward) joined more than two hundred high school and college students, immigrant advocates, and college professors to rally for an immediate stop to the deportation of Rigo Padilla, a student at the University of Illinois at Chicago scheduled for deportation on December 16.

It was a spirited rally to call for just and humane immigration reform and to urge a halt on Rigo Padilla’s deportation. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky announced that yesterday she had filed a private bill, HR 4212, asking that Rigo Padilla be granted legal permanent resident status.

Father Mike Shanahan closed the rally announcing an action of civil disobedience in front of the Federal Building on the Feast Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe (Dec. 12) if the Obama administration proceeds with Rigo’s deportation.

Rigo exemplifies what is wrong with the immigration system and the need to stop senseless deportations. Under Obama administration, deportations have increased 18%. Unfortunately Rigo is one of millions of good people that contribute to this country but nevertheless are in risk of deportation.

Following the rally, participants marched to the Federal Building while holding signs, American flags, and chanting “Our Youth, Our Nation, No more senseless Deportations”. A delegation presented copies of a petition, signed by more than 880 faculty members from colleges and universities across Illinois and the nation, to the staff of Senator Dick Durbin and Senator Roland Burris, asking that Rigo Padilla’s deportation be deferred.

Finally, today Congressman Mike Quigley added his support to that of Congressmen Schakowsky, Rush, Gutierrez, and Davis in asking that the deportation of Rigo Padilla be deferred.

But the fight isn’t over. Please help us reach our goal of sending 25,000 faxes to Secretary Napolitano, ICE Director John Morton, Senator Durbin, and Senator Burris. All of whom have the power to stop Rigo’s deportation.

Click here to send a free fax!

You can also help by sharing Rigo’s story with your family and friends and joining the cause on Facebook.

Progress Illinois has a great post about the event with video below:

View more photos of the rally below:

Youth organize protest at immigrant detention center

SWER Broward county

On Monday over 150 youth turned out to protest at the Broward Transitional Center, an immigrant detention center in Broward County, Florida. The protest was a part of the E.N.D. (Education Not Deportation) campaign led by Students Working for Equal Rights in Florida.

“This place [the detention center] was set up for people who have committed no crime,” said Maria Rodriguez, the coalition’s executive director. “Do we want our tax dollars spent on housing and detaining people who have committed no crime?”

One of the lead organizers of the action commented:

For many of the youth present this was their first Action, and I commend their courage to stand, chant, and demand change in front of the source of our community’s pain.

Courage isn’t a powerful enough  adjective to describe what these young activists possess. They are motivated, passionate and they come armed with a list of demands from which they absolutely refuse to back down. The first of which is:

-An END to the unjust criminalization of youth! For example, undocumented and nonresident youth with no criminal record that are only trying to go to college and further their careers.
-An END to the wasteful spending in our government going to the construction of prisons and detention centers while our educational system continues to deteriorate and suffer.
-An END to the deportations of American DREAMers! (DREAM Act beneficiaries)

Check out a video of the youth protestors from Monday in the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

And be sure to read Juan Rodriguez’s inspirational: Reflections on my Journey on the Florida Immigrant Coalition’s blog. Juan is an integral part of SWER and the youth-led movement for immigrant rights.

Picture courtesy of SWER’s Facebook page.

Youth Organizing for immigration reform

ytblogSeptember 11th – 13th,  I had the privilege of being in Orlando, Fl, working with youth organizers who are fighting for comprehensive immigration reform. I blogged about this powerful experience earlier, which you can read here.

Below is a powerful video created by one of the brothers of the youth attending the training, Hugo Ortiz. It captures the energy and passion that was palpable throughout the weekend.

To watch the video, just click below ( or here).[I can’t get the video to embed – its a Current format – if anybody can help out, let me know].

immyouth video

This past weekend, there was a second training in Fort Collins, CO. I have heard it was equally as powerful as the first in Orlando and will be getting video and guest blog posts up as soon as possible, so stay tuned!

ACTION: Jorge-Alonso still needs your help!

DREAM student Jorge-Alonso Chehade is still in the United States, but his fight to stay here is far from over. He still needs your calls into Senators Murray and Cantwell. Basically, Jorge-Alonso’s only chance to stay is going to come from the introduction of a private bill by the two Senators. (For background on Jorge-Alonso’s case click here).

Here is Jorge-Alonso’s recorded message for all the folks pitching in to help:

And here is the link to take action:

[via Citizen Orange]

ACTION: This is our last chance to help Jorge-Alonso Chehade


Yesterday, I posted about the continued effort to save DREAM Student Jorge Alonso Chehade from deportation. Although Representative McDermott introduced a private bill on his behalf, its still not enough. We need  U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) to submit a private bill on his behalf.

SEIU has a great click-to-call tool to contact Senators Cantwell and Murray. Please take 5 minutes of your day to click here and call the Senators on his behalf. It’s his last hope!

Yesterday, Alonso’s lawyer commented on my blog post and had this to say:

I so appreciate all of the support that Alonso has received from this community. As his attorney, we have been overwhelmed and gratified by the community’s efforts to help him. Keep up the great work for Alonso, and for all other young people who would benefit from the DREAM Act!

Karol Brown, Immigration Attorney
Global Justice Law Group

There is a real community of people behind efforts to stop the deportations of DREAMers. Those who understand this issue know that the implications of deporting our best and brightest for no real crime is the paramount of hypocrisy. It gets to the heart of what we as a nation believe of ourselves: that we value education, hard work and the opportunity to contribute. If we continue to deport youth like Alonso, we will have to question whether or not we truly uphold those values.

Do you have five minutes to help? Click here to call.

UPDATE: CORRECTION Jorge Alonso’s deportation still pending!

jorge alonso

Yesterday, Representative Jim McDermott, introduced a private bill on behalf of Jorge-Alonso Chehade, allowing him to qualify for legal permanent residency. Today, motion to reopen Jorge-Alonso’s immigration case will be filed to the Seattle Immigration Court, ending the deportation order and deadline.

Please call Representative McDermott’s office and thank him for his actions: 202-225-3106

While this is a step in the right direction, the bill must still get through the immigration subcommittee before the deportation is formally stopped. Earlier I reported that this was not the case, but have just been updated by some of the folks at DREAM Activist that Jorge Alonso is not out of the woods yet.

I will keep you updated on an action to take to help the bill get through the subcommittee.

We can’t expect lawmakers to step in and play hero each time a DREAM student is facing deportation. Many have already been deported or will continue to be deported while Congress and the administration keep delaying immigration reform and the DREAM Act. Just today a new blog post is up at DREAMActivist that has a letter from a deported DREAM student. We have to keep up the pressure.