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Sign the PETITION to get our driver license back by clicking here!

La marcha sigue en pie! Nos vemos mañana, Martes, afuera de las oficinas del Departamento de Transportacion. Mas detalles:

Cuando: Martes, 22 de Enero a las 9am
Donde: 1 S. Wilmington St. Raleigh, NC

*Bring your banners, caps and gowns, and matracas.
**Parking: Street parking or on-site parking decks at 120 S. Wilmington St. and also 115 S. Wilmington St. ($2/hour).

Para mas informacion, favor de contactar a:
Jacki Aguilar: 919-395-8458
Jose Rico: 919-802-0508


After weeks of going back and forth on the recent change in policy by the DMV to not grant drivers licenses to immigrant youth that benefit from President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), it has become evident that the NC Department of Transportation does not intend to change back its policy. They will continue to hold our drivers licenses hostage.

Only weeks ago, the DMV stated that they would stop issuing drivers licenses until they heard from the opinion of Attorney General Roy Cooper. Late last week, Cooper issued a statement explaining that DACA beneficiaries not only hold legal presence, but that the state is required to issue us driver licenses:

“It is therefore our opinion that individuals who have been granted deferred action under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy directive are lawfully present in the United States during the period of deferment. As such, N.C. Gen. Stat. 20-7(s), which states that DMV shall issue a drivers license of limited duration to person who present valid documentation demonstrating deferment and meet all other statutory requirements, requires that such licenses be issued.”

Following Attorney General Cooper’s clarification, US Citizen & Immigration Services (USCIS) also issued a formal statement in regards to driver licenses for DACA recipients:

“Deferred action is a discretionary determination to defer removal action of an individual as an act of prosecutorial discretion. For purposes of future inadmissibility based upon unlawful presence, an individual whose case has been deferred is not considered to be unlawfully present during the period in which deferred action is in effect. An individual who has received deferred action is authorized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to be present in the United States, and is therefore considered by DHS to be lawfully present during the period deferred action is in effect.”

According to recent USCIS data,  as of this month there are 14,777 immigrant youth that were given deferred action in the state of North Carolina.

However, it has become apparent to us that our state’s Department of Transportation does not care much for these clarifications. They continue to discriminate DACA youth and have given no sign of changing back the DMV policy that keeps us from obtaining a driver license. They have also found an ally in their bullying of immigrant youth with Lt. Governor Dan Forest.


A recent statement given by NC Lt. Governor Dan Forest expresses:

“A person entering the United States illegally should not be afforded the privileges reserved for US citizens..”

This is yet another attack on us. You and I have a choice to make: Will we remain silent or fight back?

Here at the NC DREAM Team, we have heard our community loud and clear. We have received your calls and read your emails and messages that:  We NEED to fight back! We WANT to fight back! We WILL fight back!

Here’s what we need to do:

1. Sign the petition and make calls:

2. Come to the protest organized by local immigrant youth TOMORROW:

When: Tuesday, January 22 @ 9am
Where: 1 S Wilmington St. Raleigh, NC

*Bring your banners, caps and gowns, and matracas.
**Parking: Street parking or on-site parking decks at 120 S. Wilmington St. and also 115 S. Wilmington St. ($2/hour).

For more info on the protest please contact:
Jacki Aguilar: 919-395-8458
Jose Rico: 919-802-0508

See you there!

Image by J. Valas

My name is Cynthia Martinez. That’s me in the picture above at my first rally ever. And it was the first time I “came out” too. For the first time ever, I shouted out my immigration status. ”My name is Cynthia Martinez and I am Undocumented and I am no longer afraid!” I had chosen to come out of the shadows and leave my comfort zone. I had chosen to take a stand. Along with seven other undocumented young people from across North Carolina, I sat down at an intersection in Charlotte. We refused to stand up. We were then arrested and semi-processed. I say semi-processed because immigration officials processed us but later “dropped our immigration charges”. And they did so because they felt pressured by the publicity that followed this action. ICE is afraid when you and me come together and take a stand. It’s time more of us took a stand too! 

Image by Justin Valas

I live in Sanford, North Carolina. Here, because my family and I are Hispanic, we are constantly targeted by local law enforcement. I grew up in Sanford since the age of two and given so, I think it’s safe to say that I consider this my home and community.

I am fully aware of the different laws and regulations that are established to keep me and my community in the shadows. Such programs include the Secure Communities policy (active in all 100 counties in North Carolina) and the community colleges admissions policy, which includes Central Carolina Community College right here in Sanford. Not being able to obtain a drivers license to drive legally is one among many more but right now it seems to be the biggest upset within my community.

Here in Lee County, the 287(g) program has not been implemented but something just as bad has occurred. We have become apathetic to the idea that running into road blocks is normal and getting a ticket is just part of it. We haven’t stopped to realize that maybe programs such as 287(g) haven’t been established here not because we are actually “liked” but because we contribute by paying ticket after ticket after ticket and in cases paying lawyers to handle traffic infractions, most due to driving without a license or an expired license. How much money hasn’t gone to the growth of Sanford obtained from inconvenient fees such as these traffic tickets? And the police are strategic about where they station themselves when they set up these license check points. There’s often one near my house where many Hispanic people live! Looks like racial-profiling to me.

Image by Justin Valas

Well it’s time that Sanford wake up to the injustices that surround our community where on top of paying federal, state, and local taxes we are still forced to pay for a ridiculous amount of tickets that we wouldn’t have to pay if we were able to obtain a license. Yet after all of this we are still told that we have to pay out of state tuition to go to the community college here in town. Does this make any sense? That while we contribute to our community, our local and state governments implement these harsh laws and policies? This is not right, it is not just.

We came to this country searching for a better future, for the right as human beings to go to school, to drive, to walk freely in our towns that we contribute to with every paycheck yet we hit a wall when we try to practice these rights. It is time that we as a community start standing up for our rights. This is a problem that affects us all for everyone once lived it. Whether it was pilgrims who came to this land fleeing religious persecution, the Native Americans who were killed by those pilgrims that were once persecuted, African Americans who were enslaved and in many ways still are, Asians who were sent to concentration camps after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, people from the Middle East who were targeted after 9-11 and Latinos who are racially profiled among other things every day. Everyone has lived it. Will you sit and watch as injustices keep happening or will you stand and take action as I have? The choice is yours.

By Emily Cabaniss

When I was 6 or 7 years old, my mom was driving my sisters and me home from the mall. It was dark and she had her low beams on. About halfway home, her lights unexpectedly went out on the highway. In a panic, she pulled the car over to the side of the road and started flicking switches and twisting knobs trying to get the lights to come back on. I remember being scared at first – we didn’t have a cell phone, we were nowhere near an exit, and we were still pretty far from home. I didn’t know what we were going to do, and my sisters and I bombarded my mom with worried questions. We were making a bad situation much worse. But, then I remember my anxiety giving way to excitement when mom figured out the high beams still worked. Amazing! She had solved the problem! We had lights again! As mom cautiously pulled back into traffic, we continued on our way home – my sisters and I hovering over the back seat noisily “helping” navigate this new adventure.

Not too long into it, though, a driver going the other way flashed his lights at us, signaling mom to turn off her high beams. She was annoying on-coming traffic. Mom cursed nervously at the bind we were in (she was NOT going to turn off the only lights that were working!). She ignored the signal and anxiously continued down the road – high beams blazing. A few minutes later, there were blue lights in her mirror.

My sisters and I fell silent. My parents had been stopped by the police before and those encounters almost always ended with one of them getting a ticket. We knew mom was not happy. She pulled over and waited for the police officer to approach her window. Peering into the back seat at us and then back at mom, he asked her bluntly, “Why didn’t you turn down your high beams when I flashed you?” She explained the problem with her lights and said she knew it was wrong to drive with them on like that, but she didn’t know what else to do. The police officer nodded. He seemed to understand. He told her he was going to let her go as long as she promised to get her car fixed, smiled at us in the back seat, and walked away. She promised. We went home. She didn’t even get a ticket.

That’s how my story ends. Because my mom is a U.S. citizen with white skin, she got to drive away that night, her only lingering concern being how much it was going to cost to get her lights working again. But that’s not the way these kinds of traffic stops end for many undocumented immigrants. I live in North Carolina, a state that is now 100% Secure Communities. That’s the federal immigration enforcement program that deputizes local law enforcement officers to act as agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Under those circumstances, even minor traffic violations can result in detention and deportation if drivers are undocumented. That’s what happened to Erick Velazquillo. And it’s wrong.

As an ally in the immigrant rights movement, I am astounded by the increasing brutality of our current immigration enforcement laws. One mistake – one single mistake – and one’s life can change forever. Like my mom, Erick broke a traffic law. Like my mom, he was stopped by police. Like my mom, he offered an explanation. But, that’s where the similarities end. That’s where policies that legalize discrimination against undocumented immigrants lead Erick down a different path that could very well end in deportation. That’s the reality undocumented immigrants face in this country. It’s inhumane, cruel, and un-American. And it’s getting worse.

When Arizona passed SB 1070 last year, it sparked a vicious anti-immigrant flame that has spread rapidly across the states. It has emboldened politicians in Alabama to pass laws requiring principals to determine the legal status of children in their schools. It has led legislators in Georgia to ban college students from attending its top universities. And in North Carolina, undocumented youth trying to enroll in community colleges are forced by law to the back of the line, allowed to register for classes only after everyone else has.

In this kind of climate, where their very existence in this country is criminalized, many undocumented immigrant families are afraid – and rightly so. That makes it all the more surprising and inspiring that some of the young people who are directly impacted by these laws have begun standing up, speaking out, and fighting back.

Following the example set by growing numbers of undocumented youth in this country (here and here, too), Erick is “coming out” and sharing his story with the aim of putting a face on this struggle and demanding humane and progressive change in our immigration laws. I stand with Erick and all of the other undocumented youth who are boldly leading this fight. I ask you do the same.

Please sign this petition to help keep Erick home where he belongs and where we need him.

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  • "@RobertMillaEsq: @NCDREAMTeam congratulations! safely!" Gracias!#FWYH 9 hours ago
  • MT @JoelBrownWTVD: Out of the shadows: Maria Ruiz, one of first in Raleigh to receive NC driver's license.... 9 hours ago

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