Category Archives: Youth

UPDATE: Jorge Alonso Chehade granted stay of deportation by last-minute bill

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 victory, its only a partial one. 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.

ACTION: Back to School, Students March for the DREAM Act


Today, across the country, students are hitting the streets, college campuses and the offices of their elected officials and university administrators, to demand justice. The DREAM Act, for those who don’t know, would give undocumented youth the chance to work towards legalization and access to higher education.

I had the privilege recently to work alongside DREAM students in Orlando, Florida. I can only say it was an inspiring and transformative experience. This country’s best and brightest are being denied the right to higher education and the right to become fully contributing members of the country they love and call home.

a dream for america

But today, on the 52nd anniversary of the Little Rock 9 desegregation of public schools, once again youth are taking center stage in the fight for justice. More than 125 events are happening  in 26 states across the country in support of the DREAM Act. From Orlando, FL to Little Rock, AR to Los Angeles, CA today’s actions are about a youth-led movement for equality.

In the midst of this exciting day, DREAMers are still fighting for a stay of deportation for Jorge-Alonso Chehade. To sign a letter asking for a stay of deportation for Jorge-Alonso, click here.

Visit for a full list of actions and events today.

ACTION: Stop the Deportation of Dreamer Jorge-Alonso Chehade


Its long overdue that I blog about the latest campaign to stop the deportation of a DREAMer. Jorge-Alonso Chehade is due to be deported this FRIDAY, unless we can convince the Department of Homeland Security to stay his deportation.

I know that many of you helped out in the fights for Walter Lara and Herta Llusho. We have to keep up the pressure on DHS in order to finally achieve a stay of deportation for all DREAM students until immigration reform is passed.

Check out this video that Jorge-Alonso made in honor of Citizenship Day:

Please take action NOW – click here to sign onto the letter asking DHS to stop Jorge-Alonso’s deportation.

Imm. Youth Organizer Training in FL: I have seen the future of the movement and it is powerful


It was a week ago that I arrived in Orlando, Florida, to participate in the Immigration Youth Organizing training with over 200 youth activists and advocates from all over the Sunshine state. I’ve been meaning to write about my experiences since I came back to DC this past Monday, but haven’t been able to carve out time and fully process my experience of last weekend. Truthfully, its so much to process that I’m thinking multiple posts will have to be written.

I want to tell you about the 30 minute phone bank drive that got over 300 commitments to the Sept. 23rd DREAM day of action, I want to tell you about one youth organizer who gave up a possible spot at MIT (his dream school) to stay at the training in solidarity with DREAM students who don’t have access to higher education, I want to tell you about each and every single aspect of the weekend that made it so powerful.

However, as I sit down to think through the training, my mind keeps coming back to one moment. It was the final day of the weekend, and people were exhausted but energized and ready for the fight. The youth facilitators had done an amazing session analyzing power structures, racism and oppression. All of the participants had just gotten out of breakout groups where they had role played scenarios of oppression and had practiced and perfected their ability to stand up for themselves and fight for justice with words.  A staff member from Representative Suzanne Kosmas’ office had come to speak in front of the crowd.


It was a tense moment, as he took the stage. The youth facilitators were told he would only take two questions. It was the first encounter between these passionate, engaged and idealistic youth and the political game. The staffer got up and began to talk about how immigration reform “couldn’t happen quickly” and talked about how the youth should tamper their expectations, even going as far as saying it could take two or three years for reform to be passed. Honestly, I felt a bit sorry for him. It was clear that he only had vague details of who he was addressing and was unaware of the fact that these youth have the backing of a major national campaign. In short, he didn’t know who he was dealing with.

In what could have been a disheartening moment for many young activists, one of our youth facilitators, Felipe, grabbed the microphone and delivered an off-the-cuff question that took this staffer to task.

“You say we have to deliver leadership from the community in order for reform to be passed? Well, look around, here is your leadership. You say that these things take time? Well, this campaign wasn’t just created, it has been ongoing for years. So I ask you, will your Representative stand with us and stand for justice to help pass comprehensive immigration reform”

It didn’t even matter what the staffer’s response was. What mattered was Felipe’s push back, his strength and most of all, his absolute determination that this was possible.

Believe me when I tell you that I’ve seen the future of the movement and it is powerful. The training in Orlando was a transformative experience for everyone involved. The youth who traveled from across the state of Florida to be there, the facilitators who before had worked with Marshall Ganz to train young people for Camp Obamas, the Reform Immigration FOR America staff there to lend support: everybody left changed.

I sat each day in amazement as these youth shared their stories; some of them for the first time ever. I heard their struggles, their incredible stories of triumph and overcoming obstacles and their ever-present determination to turn those struggles into a fight for a more just world. I was humbled over and over by the sheer magnitude and depth of what I was witnessing.

At the end of the weekend, one of the lead trainers, who had previously trained organizers for Camp Obama’s (one of the most successful organizing campaigns in history, mind you) managed to capture the spirit of the weekend. As a part of the training, the youth were asked to read an excerpt from “Parting the Waters” about the Montgomery Bus Boycott. And, this trainer said that she has trained so many youth organizers and they always do a section on the history of the civil rights movement. Each time she teaches this section, she imagines what it would have been like to be in the room with those leaders who made history, what it would be like to have known Ralph Abernathy or JoAnn Robinson or Martin Luther King Jr.

In tears, she said

“Now I know what it would have been like, because this weekend I have been in the presence of leaders who are going to make history.”

Sounds dramatic right? It was. But it was the truth. These youth leaders are passionate, committed and endlessly inspiring. With their support and their drive, this movement cannot fail.

VIDEO: Why the DREAM Act?

Dear Secretary Napolitano, Stop deporting our Youth!

UPDATE: Herta was granted a stay of deportation until November 9th! But this is not enough! The administration continues to delay immigration reform while youth like Herta continue to be deported. Wemust make sure that the DREAM Act is passed as part of Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Tomorrow, immigration reform advocates are meeting at the White House. Send in your question for the White House HERE or text ASK (PREGUNTA for Spanish) to 69866.

An open letter to Secretary Janet Napolitano about the pending deportation of Herta Llusho today.

Dear Secretary Napolitano,

A bright, deserving student from Detroit is about to be deported, and we implore you to act to
stop this injustice.

By now you have probably heard of Herta Llusho, a native of Albania who was brought to the United States by her parents when she was only 11 years old. Like so many families who come here, they were seeking a better life, the American Dream.

If you haven’t heard of her you should know this young lady graduated from high school with a 4.05 GPA, and is now a freshman at the school of electrical engineering at the University of Detroit Mercy, where she is excelling.

Herta and her parents have worked hard to overcome language barriers, to integrate and become part of our country’s fabric. She is one of many reasons why we need the DREAM Act passed.  Our country can’t afford to expel bright students like Herta, who can contribute to moving our  country forward and out of our current slump. President Obama was correct in saying, “These students are now children of the United States.” Herta is a child of the United States and deserves to stay here.

Ms. Napolitano, your action is urgently needed. Herta is scheduled to be deported on
Wednesday, August 19, 2009. She submitted a deferred action request in February 2009, but it has yet to be adjudicated.

Herta’s case number is A-96-139-441. Please defer her deportation until Congress passes
comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act.

Sen. Levin has already written a letter to Assistant Secretary John T. Morton of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) requesting prosecutorial discretion in Herta’s case.

Ms. Napolitano, you have the power to help Herta. Please review her case, and defer action.  Don’t let Herta become yet another innocent victim of our broken immigration system.


Marissa Graciosa
Campaign Coordinator
Fair Immigration Reform Movement/Center for Community Change

For action items on how you can help stop Herta’s deportation, keep reading.

Continue reading

Campus Progress Supports the DREAM Act!

Check out the new video from Campus Progress (at the Center for American Progress) about the DREAM Act.

ACTION: Youth Organizing Trainings in CO and FL


I am very pleased to announce the two trainings below. It is high time that the immigration reform movement acknowledges the power of youth and student organizing. Please re-post and push to your networks!

Do you think you’re a leader?

Are you interested in organizing?

Do you care about immigration reform?

Fair Immigration Reform Movement

of The Center for Community Change


Reform Immigration for America Campaign



Continue reading

FIRM Spotlight: CHIRLA is California Dreamin’

DREAM Students hit the streets FOR immigration reform. DREAM Students hit the streets FOR immigration reform.

This past weekend, DREAM students in California hit the streets, and the beach, to help spread the word about the urgent need for immigration reform.


Working with FIRM partner, CHIRLA, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, more than 50 students successfully engaged new audiences and fended off nasty remarks from detractors.


The power of the student movement is often not noticed amidst the push for bigger national campaigns. The youth are in the thick of the fight and are one of the biggest untapped resources in the campaign for immigration reform.

UPDATE: Walter Lara will not be Deported

walter lara

Today Walter Lara was granted a one year stay of his deportation.

Tell Secretary Napolitano thank you for exercising her discretion and recognizing the value of students like Walter. Click here to THANK her. The Secretary has acted now it’s up to Congress to act to make the DREAM Act the law of the land.

Walter will deliver the thank you letter to the Department of Homeland Security and you can show your support for Secretary Napolitano and the DREAM Act by co-signing today.