Tag Archives: DREAM Act

Republicans submit faux-DREAM Act proposal, the Plight of Domestic Workers, and the History of US Immigration Laws

1 Dec
Senators Jon Kyl and Kay Bailey Hutchison (Getty Images)

Senators Jon Kyl and Kay Bailey Hutchison (Getty Images)

Post-presidential election paths to immigration reform are emerging

In the presidential election Mr.Obama won the Latino and Asian vote by a large margin. Post-election analysis has suggested that Mr. Romney’s hard line approach to immigration was a major factor for the gap. He was never able to present a convincing argument to these constituencies and maintain his “self-deportation” strategy. There now appears to be consensus between the two major political parties that immigration reform should be a priority. Democrats may feel like they have a mandate, while Republicans understand they won’t be able to win elections without receiving more of the Latino and Asian vote.

Republicans are pushing forward two immigration measures, the ACHIEVE ACT and the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Bill. The ACHIEVE Act was introduced by Jon Kyl of Arizona and Kay Bailey Hutchison and would create a new visa for undocumented youth. The ACHIEVE act requires that applicants arrive before the age of 14, instead of age 16 as specified in the DREAM act. The visa holders would also be prohibited from federal student loans or any other kind of public benefits. Another bill the Republicans are pushing is the STEM Bill which would create visas for advanced degree graduates. These visas would be taken from another program that promotes immigration from low-immigration countries. There will likely be many months of wrangling between Republicans and Democrats before we see the new immigration reforms. These policies continue to offer minimal relief, and would end up causing many more problems in the long term.

Immigration status and affects domestic workers’ pay

A new report on pay and working conditions from the National Domestic Workers Alliance has found that undocumented domestic workers are worse off than citizen domestic workers. Undocumented workers on average receive 20% less pay, are more likely to be required to do strenuous work, more likely to be injured on the job, and more likely to work while injured. The current immigration policies weaken worker protections and create situations across the country where immigration status is exploited by employers.

23 moments of immigrant policy in the United States
ABC News and Univision have created summary of 23 pieces of legislation that have shaped the US’s current immigration policy, starting with the Naturalization Act of 1790. The article is a glimpse into the complicated and shameful history of US immigration law.

DREAMers begin walk from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., 3/5-3/12

12 Mar
The Curiuos Ostrich bloggers meet the walkers of The Campaign for an American Dream

The Curiuos Ostrich bloggers meet the walkers of The Campaign for an American Dream.

On Saturday, March 10, youth from across the US left San Francisco to walk in support of the DREAM Act.  Their organization is the aptly named Campaign for an American Dream.  As Republicans and Democrats vie for presidential votes, these young people will also engage with voters, sharing the stories of their struggles to motivate DREAM Act supporters and to challenge the assumptions of opponents.  They will arrive in Washington,D.C. in time for election night in November.

Last weekend, Curious Ostrich bloggers had the opportunity to sit down with Raymi, Jonatan, Lucas and Nico to hear about their plans and motivation for this journey.  Over plates of spaghetti and between bites of garlic bread, they discussed everything from their strategy for crossing the Rockies to how they may handle threatening situations.  They have been meeting weekly by phone for months with an extensive group of activists from around the nation that are supporting the effort.  A legal team is providing them with legal advice and working with local law enforcement in each county they walk through to ensure their protection.  A logistics team is coordinating volunteer hosts to provide food and lodging in each town and city they visit.  This network of support will allow the walkers to focus on their goal, which is, in their own words: “To create positive, productive dialogue around the passage of the DREAM Act and fairer immigration policies in general.”

They have each put aside their studies, jobs and family responsibilities for the nine month trip.  Lucas, one of the first members of the organization, explained by email why they decided to organize this walk: CAD was inspired by the Trail of DREAMs in 2010, which was a walk that took place from Miami, FL to Washington DC. When we came together to discuss the possibilities for the DREAMer movement in a re-election year, we wanted to create a walk on a larger scale that would take us across America. By reaching out to more communities in the nation throughout the West Coast and the Midwest, we can plant the seeds for a real change in America. A change that not only takes place legislatively, but through the public’s hearts and minds.

Despite the challenge ahead, they all displayed a healthy dose of humor, cracking jokes at one another about who would carry who when the going got tough.  Between laughs and discussion of their strategy, glimpses also emerged of the sorrow and disappointment of living within the confines of our immigration system and of the challenge ahead of them.  Jonatan, a recent college grad from Georgia, had recently spent four weeks in a detention center. Raymi, born in Utah, represents one of the 8.8 million people in the US who are in mixed-status families.

As the walkers made their final preparations this week, news came out of Georgia that the state legislature has moved closer to barring undocumented students from all 60 public colleges and universities (currently, they are barred from the 5 most competitive colleges in the state system).  Jonatan shared his thoughts with The Curious Ostrich via email about the developments in his home state:

If Senate Bill 458 becomes law, undocumented students will not be able to attend state colleges even if the students can pay full tuition upfront. This is flat out unacceptable. I am very ashamed that the state of Georgia refuses to see the abundance of bright minds in the undocumented youth. I am not going to sit with my hands crossed, I will make it known that I am walking for the undocumented youth in Georgia and I will not rest until we are able to fight this bill down. I was educated in a public university in Georgia so what does that say about my degree? I think that this is a matter of discrimination to undocumented youth and we are being bullied by lawmakers. This isn’t right.

At the heart of what is so exciting and inspiring about these youth and other young DREAM activists is their resilience and creativity.  In the face of the risk of “coming out” as undocumented and the potential for deportation, DREAMers have used creative, direct-action tactics to hold lawmakers accountable and provide each other with support.  Just as importantly, young activists such as Raymi, Jonatan, Lucas and Nico give the American public a human side of the immigration debate.

 Follow their walk at http://www.cadwalk2012.org

In other News:
ICE Closes 1 Percent of Deportation Cases, New America Media, 3/9/12
John Morton, director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that ICE has reviewed half of the 300,000 pending deportation cases and that only 1,500, or 1 %, were closed.
Court blocks more parts of Alabama immigration law, Reuters, 3/8/12
A US appeals court expanded its injunction against additional parts of Alabama’s anti-immigrant law.  Pending further ruling, the state will not be able to bar illegal immigrants from obtaining a driver’s license or from entering contracts with the state.
Silicon Valley leaders take up the Dream on behalf of young migrants, Los Angeles Times, 3/7/12
A group of Silicon Valley corporate donors is working to support undocumented students’ access to higher education and access to jobs through paid internships.

California leads the way in rectifying injustice and discrimination faced by immigrants, 10/3 -10/11

12 Oct

It’s been a very busy week! A lot has happened around immigration and there has been a lot of great energy generated by the Occupy Wall Street Movement. Let’s start with the bad news:
Alabama’s atrocious law continues to perpetuate racism, fear and inequities from all sides. A recent article in the Guardian shows that the law is threatening some of the most basic necessities, like access to water. A shameful poster in a town hall said “Attention to all water customers. To be compliant with new laws concerning immigration you must have an Alabama driver’s licence… or you may lose water service.” While the federal government has asked the appeals court to block Alabama’s harsh and discriminatory law, Alabama has countered by urging the court to let them continue with the atrocious law.

In more uplifting news:

Jerry Brown

California Gov. Jerry Brown, right, congratulates Assemblyman (D-Los Angeles) Gil Cedillo, left, the author of California's version of the Dream Act, AB 130

California is leading the way in rectifying some of the injustices and discrimination that immigrants face. Here are a couple of bills that Governor Jerry Brown signed this past week that support our immigrants and our communities:

  • California DREAM Act. Governor Jerry Brown signs the second part of the California DREAM Act (the first part had already been passed). While the new bills do not allow a pathway for citizenship, they do allow undocumented students to access state and private financial aid streams for college.
  • Checkpoint Impounds. Brown also signs AB 353, which prohibits police at checkpoints from seizing a car solely because the driver is unlicensed. The driver’s car is impounded for 30 days and can result up to $2,000 in fines and fees, generating a lucrative industry for tow companies and local governments. Although the purpose of checkpoints is to stop intoxicated drivers, an investigative report found that, on average, six cars are impounded for everyone one drunk driver that is stopped.  The law will take effect on January 1, 2012. It will give unlicensed drivers time to find someone with a license to retrieve the car and avoid impound.
  • E-verify. Brown also signed AB 1236, a bill the prohibits cities from requiring businesses to use E-verify.

To get more updates on other legislative bills affecting our immigrant communities, check out the California Immigrant Policy Center.

Given all the atrocities that we have seen against immigrants with laws in Alabama, Georgia, and Arizona infringing on basic human rights, I am proud of California for acting for the health and well-being of our communities. It is difficult for me to understand how some governments, like Alabama’s, are endorsing and seeking to enforce laws that infringe on basic human rights. These state governments are choosing to ignore the law’s wide spread negative effects on everyone: families, communities, employers, schools, and societies. This doesn’t even include the poor reputation that Alabama is now going to have with other states and nations.

California’s Governor Jerry Brown should be applauded for his actions to improve the well-being of our immigrants. These actions are not only the fair and just thing to do, but they will also strengthen communities in California. While there is still more to be done, both on a local level and at a national level to provide a pathway of citizenship for our undocumented individuals, it is uplifting to see steps in a just direction. Let’s continue to push the movement of equality for all forward.

Related News:

After Ruling, Hispanics Flee an Alabama Town, New York Times, October 3
The harsh and unjust effects of Alabama’s law are seen almost immediately. People are leaving behind their homes, parents are taking their children out of schools, and workers are leaving their jobs.

Society of Professional Journalists Votes to Drop the I-Word, Colorlines, October 4
In a positive move that supports the “Drop the i-word” campaign, the 7,800-member Society of Professional Journalists passed a resolution which discontinued the use of the term “illegal alien” and is re-evaluating the term “illegal immigrant.”

Georgia farmers losing millions to anti-migrant law, Fox News Latino, October 5
Facing a labor shortage as a result of anti-immigration law, Georgia’s agricultural industry reports losses in millions of dollars ($140 million).

LGBTQ Organizations Come Out for the Immediate Elimination of ICE’s “Secure Communities” Program, Community United Against Violence, October 11
Piggybacking on National Coming Out Day, LGBTQ organizations come out and urge President Obama to immediately eliminate S-Comm. The press release includes a call to other organizations to also endorse this action.