Immigrant dreamers find hope in Obama’s Deferred Action Plan

EL PASO – The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that there are more than 1.7 million undocumented students in our nation. This is the case of my friend Ana, a 26-year old political science college student. Ana and I grew up together in a small mostly Anglo town in Kansas. For the security of Ana the location and her full name will not be disclosed. I never noticed any differences between us; we both always embraced the American culture rather than our Mexican roots.

Migration Policy Institute analysis of 2006-08 and 2008-10 census data. Graphic by Matt Wettengel

Without documents, immigrant students struggle to succeed

The bus to the University of California at Los Angeles campus took two hours to travel a distance that would take 20 minutes by car. Sofia Campos took this bus ride twice a day during her first two years of college. As an illegal immigrant born in Lima, Peru, and brought to the U.S. when she was 6 years old, Campos can’t legally obtain a driver’s license. That’s just one of many inconveniences these students face when choosing to attend college. “We pretend when we see a cop pass by that we don’t get scared,” Campos said.

(©Raymundo Aguirre)

Anchor babies and Dream Acts

Teaching and Learning and Caring Blog

EL PASO – On June 15, 2012, more than a year after President Obama’s visit to El Paso, he announced that his administration would no longer take administrative action against young people who were brought here as children and who have no criminal record.  These are the same people (an estimated 800,000) that would qualify for the Dream Act, if it ever passed.  Moreover, these kids would be allowed to apply for work permits. Finally, it is a step in the right direction.  But, and it is a rather large one, there has to be enough trust that the administrative action would not be overturned, and people would not be deported once they had come forward and self-identified. The following blog by Cheryl Howard originally appeared in Bean Juice Dispatches, an on-line publication created by former UTEP students, Raymundo Aguirre and John Del Rosario. EL PASO, May 13, 2011 – Anchors keep us centered in bad weather, keep us from drifting away with the current or the wind. Dreams are not anchors; they are the wisps of wind or the current itself.  Dreams are unfettered by reality.

Filmmaker Chris Weitz, left, and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas teamed up to create a video project about Alabama’s anti-immigration law called “Is This Alabama?” (Salvador Guerrero/SHFWire)

Chris Weitz movies shed light on Alabama immigration law

WASHINGTON – Half a century has gone by since citizens of Alabama marched to oppose harsh state and national laws that restricted the rights of black Americans. Now it seems as though the state has found itself entrenched in the same battle, this time however, at the heart of the matter are undocumented immigrants. Chris Weitz, the director of hit movies such as “American Pie” and “The Twilight Saga: New Moon,” teamed with Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, to put together a project, “Is This Alabama?”

Vargas, a former Washington Post reporter who revealed his undocumented status in a New York Times Magazine story last year, made the videos with Weitz. Vargas was sent to live in the U.S. as a child. He left journalism to become an advocate for immigration reform through Define American, which cosponsored the event Wednesday, March 14, with the Center for American Progress and America’s Voice.

President Barack Obama speaks at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s Award Gala on Wednesday. He focused on issues important to the Hispanic community, such as job creation and immigration. (Danya P Hernandez/SHFWire)

Obama tells Hispanic audience he will fight for their issues

WASHINGTON – Hundreds of spectators cheered and applauded as President Barack Obama promised to work to pass the Dream Act, which would allow some young immigrants to become U.S. citizens. “I will do everything in my power to make the Dream Act a reality,” he said. Obama and first lady Michelle Obama attended the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s 34th Annual Awards Gala on Wednesday to kick off his administration’s Hispanic Heritage Month celebration. “I don’t have to tell you these are tough times. You know how hard this recession has hit families, especially Latino families,” Obama said.

A Dream worth 30 days of hunger

WASHINGTON – Lucina Martinez usually stands a little over 5 feet, but fasting for 30 days had her in a wheelchair as she rushed from office to office through the Senate office buildings this week. Martinez hoped her hunger strike would draw attention to the need of illegal immigrant youths like herself for the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act of 2010. Martinez broke the fast Thursday after the Senate version of the bill was tabled. The Senate may take up the House version of the bill next week. “We saw it as a victory to have more time to pressure the senators, to speak to them about our stories and why they should support the dream act,” Martinez said.

Immigrant high school graduates seek a pathway to U.S. citizenship

EL PASO, Texas — Many of the 65,000 illegal immigrants who graduate from high school in the U.S. every year live under the entrapment radar, risking deportation at any time as they attempt to attend college or serve in the U.S. military services. According to statistics from the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), most of these students in all grade levels have been raised in America, in American public school systems, American cities. Many only speak English and the American culture is what they know.  They have little left of their culture of origin. “It’s a very sad experience to forget where you came from because you’re accustomed to life here.  You could hardly remember that you came here from another country,” said a student who wishes to remain anonymous.  The student at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) is an illegal immigrant because, like the thousands of illegal high school students who graduate every year in the U.S., this student was not brought to America by choice.  The parents made that choice. “It’s a difficult situation.

Immigration: A love story

CHICAGO — “Up, up with education! Down, down with deportation!” chanted a crowd of 30 or so Latin American youths holding hand-painted signs advocating the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which would grant “restricted” residency to children of immigrants who pursued a higher education or military service. I watched as students took turns telling their grueling Cinderella stories, each one starting with, “My name is Juan or Maria and I’m undocumented and unafraid,” then stumbling over words, pausing to apologize for being nervous, and continuing to spill forth their love for America. At the end of the rally they ended with the same chant, but the girl with the mic mixed up the words and instead said, “Up, up with deportation! Down, down with edu… I mean, no, up, up with education.” In effect, it just showed how much they really do need a way into college.

La trajeron de pequeña y ahora es difícil poder estudiar

CHICAGO — Cristina no puede continuar con su educación. Sus padres decidieron emigrar ilegalmente a los Estados Unidos cuando ella solamente tenía tres años. Completar una carrera universitaria siendo indocumentada es muy difícil, ya que el costo de las universidades en los Estados Unidos es muy alto. Además, al no contar con un número de seguro social, ella no puede solicitar becas o préstamos estudiantiles. Cristina, de 21 años, nacida en Jerez, Zacatecas, (no quiso ser identificada con su apellido), asiste a una universidad pero sólo toma clases generales porque aún no está segura cuál carrera le gustaría estudiar, y admite que pagar por la universidad ha sido una barrera.“Mi papá y yo somos los que estamos pagando de nuestra bolsa”.

Luchando por un sueño

CHICAGO — Los estudiantes indocumentados en los Estados Unidos actualmente están atrapados en una paradoja legal, aseveró Roberto González, actor del reporte Young Lives on Hold: The College Dreams of Undocumented Students, publicado en abril del 2009. Edgar Chávez, estudiante de 21 años de la Universidad de Illinois Chicago (UIC), quiere que la pesadilla en la que esta viviendo termine de una vez pues tiene miedo de que su mayor sueño, que es terminar su carrera, sea afectado por su situación migratoria. Chávez tenía 12 años cuando llegó a Chicago con su madre y hermano; su padre ya llevaba dos años en los Estados Unidos trabajando para poder ofrecerles mejores condiciones de vida. Nacido en Monterrey, México, Chávez contó que su traslado a este país fue sencillo. Edgar Chávez y su familia cruzaron el borde fronterizo en la camioneta de su tía, quien es ciudadana estadounidense y reside en Texas.