Friday, July 24, 2009

Don't Deport Taha!

UPDATE (7/24/09): Taha has been granted deferred action by DHS!!


Its heartbreaking how often we hear this story over and over again. Last month it was Walter Lara in Florida and this month it is Taha in New Jersey.

Update – Senator Menendez signed a letter asking DHS to defer Taha’s deportation.

*We ask that you support us in KEEPING THE DREAM ALIVE by:

  1. Calling DHS comment line and asking them to not deport Taha: 202-282-8495, to make it easier just go here
  2. Calling Congressman Sires’s office in 202-225-7919 to urge him to submit a private bill for Taha!
  3. Calling Senator Menendez’s office in 202.224.4744 to urge him to submit a private bill for Taha!
  4. Calling Senator Lautenberg’s office in (202) 224-3224 to urge him to submit a private bill for Taha!

Taha is 18 years old and just graduated Dickinson High School in Jersey City, NJ. In November of 1993, his parents brought him to America from Bangladash, when he was only 2 years old. He has lived in Jersey City for more than 16 years.

On July 29, 2009, he will be deported to Bangladesh – a country that he has no memory of or connection to.

If Taha return to Bangladesh, he will never have the chance to complete the education he has worked so hard all of his life to acquire.

Taha doesn’t read or write Bengali. He does’t even know its alphabet. Moving back there will mean moving to a foreign country where he’ll have to start his life again from scratch.

Taha has been educated in America, K – 12. He achieved many awards in high school such as Academic Author Award, Principal’s Award, Honor Roll and Merit Wall.

His teachers opened his eyes to so many great opportunities in this country. His career dream is to be a pediatrician, working in a clinic or hospital environment, and giving back to our great country that has given him so much.

Taha hopes to attend St. Peter’s College in Jersey City, NJ to study Marketing and Pre-Med.

Picture yourself in Taha’s shoes. All that he needs help with is getting permission to continue living in the country he loves and calls home so that he can complete his education and spend the rest of his life giving back to the country – the only home he can ever remember living in.

-Also, we request that anyone with a connection to a local church, mosque, temple or synagogue to get a letter of support from them and send to

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

DHS Secretary, Janet Napolitano, supports the DREAM Act!

As many of you know, the DREAM Act has been gaining strength as more senators and representatives join in the efforts by co-sponsoring this legislation. And now, we have even greater news, as the Secretary of Homeland Security adds herself to the list of DREAM Act supporters.

During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Oversight of DHS, Senator Richard Durbin asked the Secretary if she supports the DREAM Act.

Here is the actual exchange (Thanks Matias!):

DURBIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Madam Secretary, thanks for being here. As a former governor of a border state, the story I'm about to tell you may sound familiar. Two weeks ago, I had a meeting in Chicago with student from one of our leading high schools. I met a young woman who was valedictorian of her class and was on a winning team in a science competition who had been accepted at an Ivy League university and was looking forward to pursuing a degree in biology which may lead to medical research or becoming a medical doctor.

But she had a problem. She same to the United States when she was two years old. She was brought by her parents from Mexico. Her parents sold corn on the street corners. And she grew up here. She speaks perfect English. She's never known another country in her entire life. And she's undocumented. I've introduced a bill for eight years now called the Dream Act. My co-sponsors this year include Senators Lugar and Menendez. And it says, for young Americans -- or young people living in America in her circumstance, that they be given a chance through either two years of service in the military or the completion of two years of college, to move toward legal status. I'm hoping, praying, for so many young people who are counting on this that we will have a chance to consider and pass that this year.

Could you tell me your opinion of the Dream Act?

NAPOLITANO: Yes, Senator.

As a governor of a border state, this is one of -- this is one of those areas where everyone wants the immigration law enforced. We must enforce it. It's part of our national sovereignty, among other things. On the other hand, we have to have the ability to deal with some of the human issues that arise here. And the one that you have identified is one of the most acute.

I supported the Dream Act when I was governor. I support it now. One of the most moving things I've been privileged to do as secretary is to administer the oath of citizenship to men and women in our military who have been serving in Iraq, who were not citizens, who have elected to become citizen. In a way, it kind of mirrors what you're talking about in the Dream Act.

But it seems to me that the Dream Act is a good piece of legislation and a good idea.

Let's keep working together to pass the DREAM Act this year!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

DREAM Act in the New York Times

To accompany the final article in a Times series on immigration, Room for Debate examines the situation of young illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children with their parents and were raised and educated here. The article on the topic will appear over the weekend.

A series that examines the impact of immigration on American institutions.

Legislation (called the Dream Act) sponsored by Senators Richard Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, and Richard Lugar, Republican of Indiana, would give some of these young immigrants a chance to become permanent residents. It would extend to those who have stayed out of trouble, graduated from high school and either finished two years of college or two years of military service, and there would be a six-year conditional status period.

We’ve asked three immigration specialists what to do about this particular immigrant population, which is estimated at one million people. The discussion also includes the perspective of two young immigrants, Prerna and Nick, who were brought to the United States by their parents and who have been here a decade or more. They asked that their last names not be used because they do not have legal papers.

Please join the discussion in the comments section here.

Let's pass the DREAM Act in 2009. Take action now!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

College Board Comes Out in Support of the DREAM Act

College Board has released a report in support of the DREAM Act, in which it listed many economic benefits that would arise from passing this act.

Undocumented students in the United States are currently trapped in a legal paradox. They have the right to a primary and secondary education and are generally allowed to go on to college, but their economic and social mobility is severely restricted due to their undocumented status. The DREAM Act, which would provide a path to legal residency for undocumented youth, is one way out of this legal predicament. Besides the moral and humanitarian reasons for opening the door to college for these students, there are also strong economic arguments, such as ensuring that the investment already made in the K-12 education of these students is realized and that the country benefits from the rich potential of productive, educated and U.S.-trained workers.

Numerous studies demonstrate that legal status brings fiscal, economic and labor-market benefits to individual immigrants, to their families and to society in general. Over time, given a chance, young men and women who are now undocumented will improve their education, get better jobs and pay more in taxes. Given their relatively small numbers as compared with public college and university enrollments, they will make up only a tiny fraction of the total population and will not displace other students. Yet their numbers are sufficient to contribute significantly to the growth of the higher-skilled labor force in the years to come. In school we encourage our students to aspire, yet we deny undocumented children the opportunity to share in the American Dream. As we think about the potential contributions of Cory, Steven, César, Rosalba, Shirley and others, we must seriously consider what happens not just to a dream deferred but also to a dream realized.

Download the full report

Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) released a statement after The College Board's report in support of the DREAM Act:

The College Board’s nonpartisan, independent report sends a very clear message: allowing more people to get more education is in America’s best interests.

Education is the foundation of the 21st century economy. It’s the path to a new prosperity. And it’s a keystone of human dignity.

This report makes it clear that we’re failing to fully harness and develop the talent that our young people have to offer. There are men and women who came to this country when they were very young, who worked hard in high school, who are ready to study or wear the uniform of the United States of America—but who see those doors slam shut in their faces because their parents were undocumented.

These students love the United States, the only home they’ve ever known—so they’ve followed the rules and worked hard in school.

But thousands of young men and women are kept from enrolling at colleges and universities, preventing them from achieving their full potential, ultimately reducing the amount they pay in taxes, reducing the amount they invest in the economy and reducing the probability they’ll become employers and create jobs.

If this country is going to stay on the apex of the curve of innovation and intellect, it’s time to stop holding down our rising stars, time to prepare them to contribute so they can best harness their talents in the service of our economy and our communities.

That’s what the DREAM Act is all about. It allows young people who came to this country as undocumented children, and who meet very specific criteria, to enlist in the military or attend college.

The DREAM Act is about creating the best-educated American workforce possible. These men and women are future doctors, teachers, businesspeople, nurses. They are an economic resource we can’t afford to waste.

But let’s be clear: this isn’t an open door or a free ride. Students have to pay tuition, pay taxes, and follow the law when it comes to applying for citizenship. It’s only for people who came to the U.S. at age 15 or younger, who aren’t criminals or terrorists, and who graduate from high school. They have to prove a lot of responsibility from start to finish.

At the end of the day, the DREAM Act is a straight-ahead test of what America is all about. The fundamental question is, Do we punish children for the sins of their parents?

When their parents came to the U.S., they didn’t have a choice to stay behind and wait for their papers to come through. It’s hard to fill out immigration forms when you’re in a stroller. Punishing children for the sins of their parents is as un-American as it gets.

The barrier separating undocumented children from college and from fully contributing to the economy is one more historical barrier that has to fall. There was a time when we were told educating women was unhealthy. There was a time when we were told educating African Americans was dangerous.

There was a time when limiting the number of students of a certain religion who could enter a university was normal. We’ve put those horrible myths to rest, and it’s hard to think of too many times in history when allowing someone to pursue an education turned out to be a bad idea. It would be a clear demonstration of the true character and goodness of America to allow her future citizens the same chance to develop their talents and pursue their dreams.

It’s in the interest of every American to stay true to our founding ideals, and watch these young people’s dreams become reality.

But I have more exciting news to share,

University of Michigan has passed a resolution in support of the DREAM Act

Oregon considers in-state tuition bill.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announces his support fot the DREAM Act.

Keep up with the DREAM Act movement over at

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Family Unity Event in Philadelphia

Today I attended the Family Unity event held by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in Philadelphia, PA. The event was attended by Rep. Luis Gutierrez [IL] and Rep. Chaka Fattah [PA], as well as other members from the state’s legislature. As part of the event, I was able to hear testimonies from people who have been and continue to be affected by the unfair and unjust immigration system of this country.

There were three testimonies in total. The first one came from a U.S. citizen who is married to an undocumented immigrant, originally from Mexico. Jill began telling her and her husband’s story by informing us how they met; she was a teacher of the English class her now husband attended. They now have 2 children together, but they live in fear everyday as a result of her husband’s immigration status. Jill fears the day she might have to choose between staying in this country without her husband and being forced out of her own country in order to keep her family together.

The second testimony came from a woman from Trinidad who is a legal resident in this country. She has been living in the United States for 4 years, and has four children. Unfortunately, two of these children are still in Trinidad waiting for their visa to come through to finally reunite with their mother. As I was listening to her story, I could feel the pain she was going through; to be separated for four years from two of your kids must be an agonizing experience. The good news came after her testimony, when one of the hosts presented her with the $600 she needed to continue her legal battle to finally reunite her family.

The third testimony really touched me, because it came from a fellow DREAMer who we call “Anita.” Unfortunately, Anita was too afraid to attend the event, but a girl from the church was able to read us her story. Anita is originally from Argentina. She came to the United States with her parents at the young age of 10. She is now 18 and wants to be the first person in her family to attend college. Unfortunately, she is faced with the struggle that many of us are very much aware of, we lack the papers necessary to make this possible. Anita is an exemplary student, having graduated high school with 3 AP classes under her belt, one of them being AP English Literature. The fact that she faces this huge obstacle which prevents her from attending a higher learning institution is not only detrimental to her, but also to the United States. Anita is just asking for the opportunity to prove herself to his country; why are we preventing her from doing so?

After the three very powerful testimonials, Rep. Gutierrez came forward and talked about the importance of passing Comprehensive Immigration Reform this year to give humanitarian relief to undocumented families in this country. He called for consistency in the Obama administration between what now President Obama campaigned for and what his policies are now. He called for an end to raids and deportations that cause children, wives, and husbands to be separated from their loved ones. He also mentioned how unfair the system is, when we have a solider fighting in Iraq, but the federal government at home is trying to deport his wife; how unfair it is that the government focuses on deporting hard-working individuals instead of the real criminals living in this country. All in all, he called for the community to stand up and let their voices be heard in favor of immigration reform so that the Obama administration and Congress respond to this fundamental civil rights issue.

Rep. Chaka Fattah of the 2nd District of Pennsylvania also spoke about the need for comprehensive immigration reform, to be on the “right side of history.” While he is not my representative, it was great to hear him speak about the obligation we have to provide law-abiding people with a pathway to citizenship.

And then it all ended with four mariachis coming to the stage to sing us a couple of great songs. And while there was no talk of the DREAM Act in particular, it was still inspiring to see people from the community come together and support Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The DREAM Act Has Been Introduced!

It’s finally here!

The DREAM Act has been introduced in the Senate (S.729) by Sen. Richard Durbin (or Papa Durbin) of Illinois and in the House of Representatives (H.R.1751) by Rep. Howard Berman of California yesterday March 26th.

But wait! Before you start celebrating, let me tell you that the battle is not over yet. The introduction of a bill is only the first step toward success. You NEED to call your senators and representatives and urge them to support and co-sponsor the DREAM Act. Make your voice heard!

In addition to that, everyone should make an appointment to meet with their senators and representatives or their aides. It’s not as scary as it may seem, and you make a better impact by talking to them face-to-face. If you’re interested in doing this, visit's Taking Action page or shoot me an e-mail and and I’ll help you through this process. It’s very simple, trust me!

Our friend Kyle over at Citizen Orange has listed 5 simple steps you can follow right now to be a part of this great cause.

1. CALL - The National Council of La Raza has a page to help you call your congressional representatives in support of the DREAM Act.

2. FAX - America's Voice has a page to help you fax your congressional representatives in support of the DREAM Act.

3. EMAIL - has a page to help you email your congressional representatives in support of the DREAM Act.

4. PETITION - has the official petition in support of the DREAM Act.

5. TEXT - Text "Justice" ("Justicia" for Spanish) to 69866 to be the first to know when the DREAM Act is introduced. FIRM's Mobile Action Network is an excellent way to stay connected and have maximum impact at just the right moment.

And now I leave you with a quote by Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Chairperson of the Immigration Subcommittee, who stated:

"As a nation, we face an increasingly competitive global market. To effectively compete in this new interconnected global market, we must ensure that we have the most educated workforce in the world. Whether in college or in the military, we must give all qualified young people the opportunity to get an education. These determined and dedicated young people need the chance to become productive members of our society. Penalizing them hurts us all"


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Immigrants Face Long Detention, Few Rights - (Update on Sarjina Emy)

An MSNBC article, "Immigrants Face Long Detentions, Few Rights," gives us an update on Sarjina Emy; a 20 year old honors student who was brought to this country at the age of 5 from Bangladesh and spent nearly 2 years in a detention facility.

"We're immigrants, and it makes it seem like it's worse than a criminal," said Sarjina Emy, a 20-year-old former honors student who spent nearly two years in a Florida lockup because her parents' asylum claim was denied when she was a child. "I always thought America does so much for justice. I really thought you get a fair trial. You actually go to court. (U.S. authorities) know what they are doing. Now, I figured out that it only works for criminal citizens."

Emy, who was raised in Orlando, Fla., spent 20 months in a detention center even though she had no criminal record. She traded her Baby Phat clothes for a gray uniform and window-shopping at the mall for a law library behind razor wire.

Her only crime? Her parents, who feared her father's political affiliations endangered the family, brought her and two brothers to the United States from Bangladesh in September 2003 — when she was 5, according to court documents.

She doesn't speak Bangla and never imagined a future without college. No one in her family realized her father's work certificate from the Labor Department didn't equate to legal immigration status.

Family members were rounded up in July 2007, treated as fugitives on a dated but active deportation order.

Her parents were deported first. Emy languished in custody while continuing her fight to stay.

But because the asylum application had been filed on behalf of the entire family, only the parents got a hearing. Emy never saw a judge, according to Emy and her attorney.

"Justice is not being served," she said from a prison pay phone.

In January, a federal appeals court denied her petition to stay in the U.S. Fearing she'd celebrate another birthday behind bars, Emy agreed to be deported and left the country Feb. 18.

Immigration law "is the only United States law where we punish the children for the actions of their parents," said Emy's attorney, Petia Vimitrova Knowles.

Immigration violations are considered civil, something akin to a moving violation in a car, so the government can imprison immigrants without many of the rights criminals receive: No court-appointed attorney for indigent defendants, no standard habeas corpus, no protection from double jeopardy, no guarantee of a speedy trial.

"You're locking up people without even a hearing," said Judy Rabinovitz of the American Civil Liberties Union's Immigrants Rights Project. "That, to me, is the outrage: basic due process. Since when do we allow the government to lock up people without even giving them a bond hearing?"

This is our tax dollars at work. Imprisoning honors students for 20 months, without even a hearing, and deporting them back to a country they don't know or remember. When will people wake up and realize we need people like Emy in the United States? She did nothing to deserve the unfair and inhumane treatment she received, let alone getting deported from her country. I hope she's doing well.

Friday, March 6, 2009

My name is Maria and I am an American

From Immigration Blog

I have decided that a tiny little piece of paper and a 9-digit number are not going to decide what I am or what I am not. I don't define myself by my undocumented status. Yes, I am undocumented, but I am an American first.

I am an American because of the pride I feel when I hear The Star-Spangled Banner and the pride I felt when I saw our first black President take the oath of office; only 45 years after Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I am an American because I love this country and what it stands for. I am an American because this is my home.

I was born in Lima, Peru and lived there for the first 12 years of my young life. My parents had lost their business and only source of income due to the economic situation of the country. As my parents struggled to find jobs to keep our family afloat, they were left with no choice but to keep me out of school for a year as they could not afford it. This is not what parents want for their kids, and this is not what my parents wanted for me. This is why they finally decided to seek a better future in "the land of opportunity;" to provide my siblings and I with the tools necessary to build a good life.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

It's Been a While..

So, what has happened since my last blog post? I think the most important thing is, we now have a new president. How amazing and inspiring that day was, I pretty much spent it glued to my T.V. wishing I was there. Since the inauguration, President Obama has not focused much on immigration which is understandable with the hard economic times this country is going through. However, I'm really hoping the DREAM Act gets introduced during the beginning of this year. This will not happen without us pushing him, though.

Anyway, I am taking Political Science at school this year and apparently, there's a wannabe ICE agent in my class. Well, to be fair, he didn't say that but he said he is very much against illegal immigration. Ironically, he sits next to me. I wish I would have been brave enough to stand up and say something, but for some reason, I think that people will realize I'm undocumented if I do so. Completely ridiculous, I know. Maybe if I lived in a more liberal state, but PA is not exactly immigrant-friendly. That does not excuse the fact that I kept quiet, and if the topic ever comes up again (which I'm sure it will), I will make sure to shut him up. I wonder what he would say (or do) if he knew he sits next to one of those "illegal immigrants," though. Would he change his mind? Or would he become one of those "you're taking a U.S. citizen's college seat!" kind of people?

Probably the latter. I'm not feeling optimistic today.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Take Action!

We are continuing to make progress on We recently moved from the 15th to the 14th position on the website and are one of the ideas with the most endorsements! Please, don't forget to e-mail your friends and family asking for their support and vote. Also, contact your local organizations and ask for their endorsement and support as well!

Visit for more information on how to get involved!

DREAM Act 2009!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Vote for the DREAM Act on!


The problem: Many American students graduate from college and high school each year, and face a roadblock to their dreams: they can’t drive, can’t work legally, can’t further their education, and can’t pay taxes to contribute to the economy just because they were brought to this country illegally by their parents or lost legal status along the way. It is a classic case of lost potential and broken dreams, and the permanent underclass of youth it creates is detrimental to our economy. Former Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch has said: “In short, although these children have built their lives here, they have no possibility of achieving and living the American dream. What a tremendous loss for them, and what a tremendous loss to our society.”

The solution: The federal DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act), is a bipartisan legislation that would permit these students conditional legal status and eventual citizenship granted that they meet ALL the following requirements:
–if they were brought to the United States before they turned 16, are below the age of 30,
–have lived here continuously for five years,
–graduated from a U.S. high school or obtained a GED
–have good moral character with no criminal record and
–attend college or enlist in the military.

Why should you care? There is no other pathway to citizenship for these students. Besides the injustice of punishing children for the alleged transgressions of their parents, throwing away the talent we have invested in from K-12 and accruing losses in human and financial capital by deporting talented students is bad public policy. The Social Security Administration has recently stated that we need a net increase of 100,000 immigrants each year to ensure Social Security solvency. Passing the DREAM Act would actually help solve the Social Security crisis by creating a larger taxable base of educated Americans that are already in the United States. It would also free some of the backlog that currently plagues the legal immigration system. Also, the DREAM Act in its latest form, does not grant in-state tuition to any student.

Endorsements: Since 2001, almost a 1000 organizations have officially endorsed the bill. Barack Obama has stated that DREAM Act beneficiaries are “American children for all intents and purposes” and has called this a top priority.

Tell President-Elect Obama to pass the DREAM Act in 2009. See to get more involved.

From Jan 5 to Jan 15, has resumed the final round of voting
for ‘Ideas for Change.’ The Top 10 Ideas get presented to Barack Obama
at an event co-hosted with The Case Foundation at the National Press
Club in Washington, DC on January 16th.

Links to vote for the Top 3 ideas in Immigration

Important - You have 10 votes as a person and as a non-profit /
blogger, it is alright to endorse more than one idea.

For bloggers and non-profits, endorsement is quick and easy and you
also get to advertise your site. Click on the “Click Here to Endorse
this Idea” on the right side of each idea you want to endorse, fill in
the details, and submit.

The code for the widgets is the same — please put those up on your