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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
June 4, 2012
NIYA Demands Executive Order to Stop Deportations of DREAM Act-eligible Youth
Prosecutorial discretion has failed—deportations of DREAMers continue
DENVER—The National Immigrant Youth Alliance is calling for the President to issue an executive order to stop the deportation of DREAM Act-eligible youth. We simply cannot continue to allow our lives to be held up by petty partisanship and congressional gridlock.
We need the strength of an executive order to stop our deportations. Prosecutorial discretion has not stopped them; NIYA has continued to fight tooth and nail for many young people who meet the criteria to have their cases administratively closed under the June 17 Morton Memo. At present, NIYA is fighting over 30 active cases that meet these criteria.
Many cases move forward into removal proceedings simply because ICE field offices disregard prosecutorial discretion. ICE agents are not under any obligation from their superiors to do otherwise. Even in Denver, Colorado, where the field office is participating in a pilot program for prosecutorial discretion, ICE agents denied Hugo Zarate’s request for deferred action, even though he is DREAM Act-eligible and suffers from rheumatic fever.
We have lost hope for immigration reform during the current period of congressional gridlock. As well, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has continued to expand programs like Secure Communities and 287(g) and deportation levels remain at record levels.
We hope that our call for an executive order has not fallen on deaf ears in the White House. If the Administration does not issue an executive order, we will be forced to respond with direct action in the coming days. The administration, by not taking action by means fully within its power, keeps our lives on hold. That position, for us, is no longer acceptable.
The National Immigrant Youth Alliance is an undocumented youth-led network committed to achieving equality for all undocumented youth. We have member organizations in Alabama, California, Colorado, D.C., Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington and have relationships with activists throughout the entire country. We are the only independent national organization of undocumented youth. Through advocacy, grassroots organizing, direct action and civil disobedience, we will develop a sustainable movement for justice and equality led by those most affected and supported by committed, conscientious allies.
By Alicia Torres-Don
In April it was in Georgia. This month, in California. The fear of being undocumented is being dropped across the nation. We as undocumented youth are coming out of the shadows as UNDOCUMENTED, UNAFRAID, UNASHAMED. We are doing this not because we enjoy the thrill of putting our lives on the line every time we come out, but because we, as the directly affected, are living the urgency of the situation on a daily basis.
We have no option to “opt out,” we are undocumented and we live our lives as undocumented. We have to face secure communities, the 287(g) program, and checkpoints on a daily basis. We have to leave our homes every morning with the image of our parents praying with all their might that we may return. We have to face and endure the constant injustices that are being committed against us, our families and our communities. It is because we see, we live, but more importantly, because we recognize that this is not right and that we have the obligation to challenge such injustices that we dare come out as UNDOCUMENTED, UNAFRAID, UNASHAMED.
We live in a time where an epidemic of anti-immigrant sentiment and injustices sweep our nation and it is our obligation to expose such injustices and to challenge these wrongs. We the undocumented have to own our status, our stories, our voice, our power. We are a collective to be reckoned with. To all the undocumented youth in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and all those states where the light seems very dim, I tell you that the power to change and challenge starts with you. Own your status, reach out, organize and challenge.
Like many of us, Erick Velazquillo was at one point living in the shadows, knowing that he was not the only one but feeling like he was–until he was put in circumstances that shook him, made him own his status, and forced him to organize. He is now fighting his deportation through his own means and the collective of undocumented youth that stand behind him. Let’s DROP the FEAR and own our status, our stories, our voice, our power. We are UNDOCUMENTED, UNAFRAID, UNASHAMED, organized and determined to challenge the many injustices that we, our families, and our communities are living. I invite you to DROP the FEAR and take a stand. Here’s how: make a simple video with your story and post it up on your Facebook and send it to us to post on our blog. The time is now.
By Emily Cabaniss and Justin Valas
As mentioned in the previous post, the dangers of coming out in rural North Carolina are all too real. Last week at the Lexington Multicultural Festival, four undocumented youth resisted the factors that push back on their ability to have a normal future in the place they call home- they came out of the shadows in a very public place.
Judging by the double-takes that the randomly passing police officers gave us, our booth clearly stood out from the rest of the crowd:
Over the course of the day, dozens of people stopped by our booth to express their support and solidarity. Of those dozens, four youth experienced something very different and left with a subtly defiant glow of confidence in their eyes.
One young woman told me that she had graduated from high school last year and was still wondering what is next. “I want to get into community college, I want to study early childhood education and teach young children.” The only frustration was continued confusion over whether she could get into school (let alone the abusive registration process), and obvious concerns about how to finance the out-of-state tuition she would surely be charged….
A couple of other youth, dressed in the crisp fatigues of JROTC, casually picking up our materials asked about what we do. Nonchalantly, one of the two let it drop that as an undocumented High School senior they were wondering what came next.
Another youth stood and conversed with me at length about the importance of the DREAM Act, and the importance of working to safeguard the rights and futures of undocumented youth. Suddenly, she switched over to Spanish and told me “Soy una de esos estudiantes (I am one of those students).” She went on to tell me about how she had been accepted to college with a generous scholarship package and how much she wanted to share that knowledge with others.
A future child educator. JROTC youth. A student who merited a full-ride scholarship to a prestigious university. These are some of the stories of undocumented youth in rural North Carolina, who are impacted by the anti-immigrant bills in the NC General Assembly. These are some of the youth whose futures are put on hold as Senator Kay Hagan refuses to support the DREAM Act.
As an ally, I felt amazed and inspired by these youth. Full of energy, they had the courage to approach a stranger and shared both their status and desires for the future in a rural county known for its anti-immigrant tendencies.
If there is one thing that I have learned from the past year of our activism in NC and across the country, it is this:
Empowerment is contagious.
How will you use yours?
Everyone should feel free to contact your local Representative and Senator in NC (find yours here), and tell them that you expect them to oppose all anti-immigrant legislation in the General Assembly. You can also urge your Representative and Senators in DC (find yours here) to co-sponsor and support the DREAM Act.
This is great news.
HB1465, which would have required public colleges and universities in Virginia to write policies denying enrollment to undocumented immigrants, was decisively shot down today in the state Senate.
Isabel Castillo, who graduated magna cum laude from Eastern Mennonite University in 2009, gave testimony on the legislation before the Senate Courts and Justice Subcommittee (Video via VA Interfaith Center):
The Committee also shot down House Bill 2332, which would have required local law officials to enforce federal immigration law. No small victory there, either.
Castillo is a co-founder of DREAMActivist Virginia, which along with us is part of the new National Immigrant Youth Alliance. Castillo was also one of several DREAMers arrested during a sit-in in Washington D.C. last year. If you’re on Facebook, take a minute to congratulate Virginia on their victory.