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.