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Dreamer’s Day 2014: Pathways to Education for Immigrant Youth


Parents and students are invited to attend this special event. Speakers from the NC Dream Team will come to share their own personal stories navigating the U.S. education system. You will also learn about unique resources and scholarship opportunities available to immigrant youth!

Date: April 28, 2014

Location: Sallie B. Howard School Auditorium – 1004 Herring Ave. Wilson, NC

English Q&A Panel 2:00 pm

Spanish Q&A Panel 6:00 pm

Your child does not need to be a student at Sallie B. Howard School in order for you to attend.  Questions? Please contact Angelica Contreras (for Spanish translation), Georgina Barbosa (for Spanish translation), Kate Donohue or Hannah Smoot at (252) 293-4150.


I’m Oliva Prezas Garces. I am an undocumented student and currently a DACA holder. I was brought here to North Carolina when I was 4 years old. I graduated from high school in 2012 as an honors/AP student. My plan after high school was to attend a four year university and pursue a BS in biology. However, I was not able to follow my plan. All of the universities were rating me as an out-of-state student because of my undocumented status. Most of the scholarships that I could have qualified required US residency, and those that didn’t were very competitive.  Financial aid was also not an available option. The possibility of going to college was impossible.

As a result, I did not attend a university. Instead, I am working full time at a factory so I can attend a local community college where I am also charged at the out-of-state tuition rate, even though I graduated from high school here. Last semester, I payed $2600 for 3 classes; that is 3 times more than my high school classmates who are charged at the in-state tuition rate pay. This is unfair because I have lived here almost my entire life. I was raised here. I overcame the challenge to learn english. I gave my academics top priority. My future is here in North Carolina and this is my home.

Attending Vance Granville Community College is a major challenge to me. Everyday, I worry that I will not have enough money to pay the high cost to take classes there. What if I lose my job? Or even worse, what if I don’t graduate on time because I cannot pay my tuition? All of that time, money, and hard work will go to waste.


However, this could all change with the support of Attorney General Roy Cooper. His signature in support of in-state tuition for students like me will change our lives forever. With the stroke of a pen, he can change the direction of my future and the future of North Carolina as there are thousands of others like me. Difference is I will no longer remain in the shadows about my struggle. For 3 months now, we have requested the support of Attorney General Cooper. What is the hold up???

When I was little, I accompanied my mother to the doctor because she broke her leg. My mother was in pain and stressed out. She was missing days of work and getting backed up on paying the bills. The doctor helped my mother and since then, I have known I want to become a doctor because I want to help others the way that doctor helped my mother. Specifically, my dream is to become an Orthopedic Physician’s Assistant. Why is Attorney General Cooper refusing to support students like me? On Saturday, January 11th I will be marching from UNC Chapel Hill to Attorney General Cooper’s office to hold a funeral for my dream. Will you march with me? You can register here:

Thank you for your support!

Marco Cervantes and Maria Alejo were arrested about an hour ago at Rep. Mel Watt’s office in Charlotte, NC. The dreamers were at the office supporting the efforts of Norma, mother of Luis Leon who is one of the dream 9 still detained at Eloy Detention Center in Arizona. Norma, Luis’s community and friends are seeking the support of Rep. Mel Watt who has said he supports dreamers in the past. Why is he turning his back on the #dream9 now?


Marco Cervantes is a dreamer and undocumented youth leader from Chapel Hill, NC.


Maria Alejo is a dreamer and an undocumented youth leader from Raleigh, NC.

A total of 42 representatives, including Rep. David Price, have endorsed the #Dream9 and have called on President Obama to #BringThemHome and release them from Eloy Detention Center.


Representative David Price- 202.225.1784
Representative G.K. Butterfield- 202.225.3110
Representative Mel Watt- 202.225.1510

Sample Script:
“Hi I am calling Representative_____________ to urge him to sign onto Representative Mike Honda’s letter in support of the DREAM9 and make a direct call to ICE asking for their immediate release from detention.Luis Gustavo Leon of Marion, NC is one of the DREAM9 currently detained and we need to bring them home to reunite them with their families.”




Follow the campaign to #BringThemHome on facebook and at 

Marco is an undocumented youth leader living in Carrboro, North Carolina working towards tuition equity for undocumented students.

Marco is an undocumented youth leader living in Carrboro, North Carolina working towards tuition equity for undocumented students. Image courtesy of Steve Pavey.

I don’t think that anyone heard me
backing out of my driveway
I thought that all my worries were left with the love for my mom
Ready to turn the ignition I am stopped by a siren
Knowing that I was in for some trouble I let out an exhale full of my demons
With all the bad intentions out of my system
I can finally distinguish the sound of the siren
It was my mom crying out my name from the second floor window
As I walked into my house
I was getting prepared for a fight with the greatest fighter I knew
On my toes and with excuses as my only line of defense I approached her
I threw the first jab
hoping to win with golden gloves I asked her the golden question
What am I gonna do with my life?
My words made us both see stars
the brightest of which emerged from the corner of her eye
I knew it was truly a star because of the way it seemed like gravity didn’t affect it
With our sights aligned she came back at me
Que hay de mal con tu vida?
Not being able to slip the question I was brought back to June 9th, 2012

All of my peers dressed in black
Families coming together to celebrate
the accomplishments of their childrens last steps before college
But for me it was something different
For me it was the death of my education
After 13 years of being told that only with hard work
will you be where you want to be
I was buried under 13 feet of false hope
Every foot was a year that I spent with a concealed identity
An identity that was finally exposed as I walked across the stage
Finally face to face with the man in the black gown
and a scythe as sharp as my cap
I embraced him and I shook his hand
And in return he gave me a death certificate
A fraudulent diploma

My mothers words brought me back to reality
Que hay de mal con tu vida?
I’m not where I want to be ma
Y donde quieres estar mijo?
I wanna be in college isn’t that why you brought us here?
No mijo, los trajimos para que no tuvieran la misma vida que nosotros
What a life I have
Looking around me I see an army of tombstones
All these graves filled with the bodies of those who one day aspired to be
Engineers doctors lawyers and educators
Those who were shoved into boxes by
presidents politicians citizens

Topped off with shovels full of anti immigrant rhetoric where
Americans were told that anyone darker must be below you
But I refuse to stay below
I am risen with the remaining strength of those sharing this cold ground with me
I am risen with the roaring power of Martins voice that allows me to scream
that I am UNDOCUMENTED and that I am UNAFRAID
I am risen with the fortitude of Pancho Villas legs that stood firmly over his land
I am risen with the resilience of Armando sitting beside me in Honors classes
Knowing that this might be the last lesson they agree to teach us

I give some strength to all those in the same situation
The strength to resurrect and make these dreams a reality

Ya firmaste la peticion? La comunidad de Wendell ya la firmo!

Ellos apoyan la propuesta 786 que daria permisos de manejo a la comunidad indocumentada. Que dices, te unes tu tambien a apoyar? Para empezar, firma la peticion haciendo click aqui! Despues, haz una llamada al lider de la camara de representantes de Carolina del Norte, Thom Tillis.

Llama al 919-733-3451 y di lo siguiente:

“Hi, I’m calling to ask Representative Tillis to support HB786. Please pass HB786 so I can legally drive again. Thank you.”

Tell NC lawmakers to let undocumented immigrants drive again:

Tell NC lawmakers to let undocumented immigrants legally drive again:

My name is Michelle Valladarez. I’m 20 years old and I’m undocumented. When I was eight years old, my father made some choices that put my brother and I in a dangerous situation in Honduras, where I was born. Daily I would get pulled out of class and questioned on my father’s whereabouts. We were no longer safe, not even in school. Fearing the worst, my mother decided to bring my brother to the United States. A year later, she sent for me. Luckily, my brother was able to enter the country by plane. I had to cross the border. At such a young age I had heard plenty about the terrible things that happen when trying to cross into the US. I was terrified. It took nearly two months to get to North Carolina, but finally I was reunited with my family.

I was excited to be here and excited to return to school. Since I had attended a bilingual school in Honduras, English was not a barrier for me. But even though I knew English and felt like I had a better future ahead of me, my excitement quickly died when I saw how difficult the life of an illegal immigrant is. Everywhere I went I was faced with racism and in school I got bullied plenty. It felt like it could not get any worse.. until I got to high school and had to start thinking about college that is.

Michelle Valladarez is an undocumented youth from Zebulon, NC. Her dream is to join the Air Force.

Michelle Valladarez is an undocumented youth from Zebulon, NC. Her dream is to join the Air Force.

My first two years of high school were fairly smooth. I had good grades and developed a love and appreciation for the military after I joined AFJROTC. Once I got to my junior year though, depression slowly began to sink in. It hit me that I might not be able to attend college or join the military. I reached out to recruiters and my school counselor in hopes of finding an answer. My school counselors had never been faced with this situation since most students live in the shadows and in fear because of their immigration status. They didn’t know what to do any more than I did. My parents began to share my frustration and fear. They suggested I go back to Honduras or to go study in Mexico. This is an issue that most immigrant students face. In their frustration, parents lose sight of what is truly important to us and instead of being supportive their solution to the problem is to send us back to our country of origin. I refused to give up. I refused to go back.

Even though my Junior year felt tough, I decided to suck it up and give my last year of high school the best I had. The biggest highlight of my senior year was becoming Group Commander of my JROTC Unit and exceeding expectations for our Unit inspection. That brought us to the top 10% of all AFJROTC units in the country. My dream of being in the military grew even more and I looked into the eligibility requirements for an Air Force Scholarship. Out of all the graduating Seniors, I was the only one who really had a chance at that scholarship. But there was one thing missing: papers. My heart was crushed and has been ever since.

After high school I went to college for a year. Wesleyan College, a private school, had given me a scholarship to cover some of the tuition costs and my step-dad agreed to pay what was left. My step-dad is also an illegal immigrant. His job wasn’t steady enough to afford my schooling, so I had to to quit for a year and work to pay off my tuition. As an illegal immigrant it is hard to find a decent job and sometimes you get stuck working for people that underpay you and don’t respect you. That’s why I am thankful for DACA and I can now have a better job and drive without fear. But DACA is only temporary and I still can’t afford paying out-of-state tuition. I also cannot enlist in the military despite having legal presence through deferred action. I also live in fear that my brother will also have to pay the price of being an undocumented student and that my mom or step-dad could get detained for driving with an expired license they can’t renew because NC doesn’t issue licenses to illegal immigrants.

Michelle graduated from Southern Nash High in 2011. Because she's undocumented, she could not get the Air Force scholarship despite the fact that she met all other requirements.

Michelle graduated from Southern Nash High in 2011. Because she’s undocumented, she could not get the Air Force scholarship despite the fact that she met all other requirements.

It has been rough and I’ve had to give up a lot of opportunities due to a lack of “legal status”. But I still have hopes that there will be a silver lining. I am not giving up, and neither should any undocumented youth. We deserve to get an education, to be able to have the job of our choice, and we deserve to have the option of joining the armed forces. But we have to fight for our rights. They’re not just gonna fall from the sky. And that is why I’ve decided to join the NC Dream Team and fight alongside other undocumented youth to improve the situation of our community.

I share my story with you to let you know that you are not alone. But above all to tell you that we must persevere in the face of adversity. I’m a Military DREAMer and my story does not end here.

For Immediate Release

June 11, 2013
Santiago Garcia- Leco
828.559.7993 |
DREAMer Francisco Hernandez Set for Deportation; Community Urges USCIS to Grant DACA
Supporters of Francisco Hernandez (A# 205-210-075) gather to urge United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to grant Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
Charlotte. NC— Francisco “Paco” Hernandez, now 23, came to North Carolina from Mexico at the age of 14. He graduated from McDowell High School in 2009 and was attending McDowell Technical Community College when he was taken into immigration custody. Paco filed for Deferred Action, yet he is still being forced to see an immigration judge and could be deported any day.
When: After 1pm Immigration Court Hearing, Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Where: 5701 Executive Center Drive, Suite 400
             Charlotte, NC 28212
Who: Francisco, family, friends, and community supporters.
On May 13, 2011, Paco was wrongfully arrested. Paco and two friends were coming home from a party where Paco had been drinking. Being responsible, Paco let one of his sober friends, Luis –on leave from the military- drive. On their way home Paco’s car broke down; so all three friends got out to push it and Luis handed Paco the keys. While pushing the car, the police showed up to help the boys but instead (despite the care being completely off and immobile) arrested Paco and charged him with a DUI.
Despite his innocence, Paco was charged and sentenced to 30-months of probation. He didn’t miss a single check-in with his officer. However, at his November 28, 2012 check-in, ICE was waiting for him. Paco was detained and forced to spend nearly 2-months in immigration detention in Georgia  Paco was finally released on a $15,000 bond, allowing him to fight his case from the outside.  In June of 2013, he applied for DACA, and now we as a community supporting Paco, are asking USCIS to grant his application and help keep his family together. 

The NC DREAM Team is an organization composed of undocumented immigrant youth and allies who are dedicated to the creation of a sustainable, community-led immigrant rights movement in North Carolina. We aim to help undocumented youth recognize their individual and collective power to activate their communities. We will escalate in our efforts to achieve a just reform that is acceptable to–and guided by–the voices of those directly affected by our broken immigration system.


English version:

My name is Enriqueta Martinez. I’ve lived in North Carolina for 1O years and I am undocumented. I have three children who qualify for what is deferred action. I came here in 2003 and got my driver’s license in 2004. I used my license to go to work and pick up my children from school. I will always remember the day I got a call from school because my son had an accident. Without thinking it twice I jumped in the car and drove to the school. On the way to school I got tailed by a cop. Probably because I look Latina, but my license plate said I had a license, so he didn’t even stop me since he knew I was licensed and he could not get away with pulling me over for no reason.

When I finally got to the school I was desperate and just wanted to see my son. The receptionist at the front desk told me she needed to see a state issued ID before I walked inside. Thank God I had my driver’s license.

In 2009 my license expired on my birthday. It was one of the saddest days of my life. I could not even leave my house, I thought that just by going outside a cop out there would be waiting for me. I became depressed, I began to miss work, and I even had to change my schedule to mornings so that my son could pick me up from work.

It’s been 4 years since my license expired and since then I’ve only driven like 7 or 8 times, only for emergencies. And when I got tailed by a cop during those times, I felt like my heart was about to split in two. Really, it’s a feeling I would not wish even on my own enemies. That’s why I decided to write this letter today. I have followed the proposal that will give us our licenses back. And most of all the controversy. I applaud all legislators who are putting their two cents. I’m not stupid, I know there are several things that are wrong, but it’s a start. And it’s not like the bad things are not happening already. I’ve been waiting for this day for four years. I’m tired of living like this and even more tired of listening to all the people against it. Most of them are not even illegal and obviously not in a million years will they be able to stand in my place and feel that desperation. So to them I say thanks but no THANKS. I want my LICENSE and I want it now!


An undocumented woman

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