Tag Archives: DREAM Act

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:

VIDEO: Senator Durbin speaks about immigration reform and DREAM Act

Check out this video of Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) discussion the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform after two Congressional briefings on the DREAM Act last week.

With the growing chorus of support for immigration reform coming from communities of faith, law enforcement officials, and over one hundred House Representatives, I hope that more and more elected officials will stand up for what is right and support comprehensive immigration reform that includes the DREAM Act.

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: http://action.seiu.org/callforalonso

[via Citizen Orange]

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 www.dreamactivist.org 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.