Thursday, March 27, 2008

A Dream Deferred

Check out this new DREAM Act Blog brought to you by Brave New Films that features the voices of college students from all over the United States.

Watch the video!

Read their stories!

Demand a pledge from Clinton, McCain, and Obama to enact the DREAM Act in their first 100 days. All three of them have co-sponsored the federal DREAM Act in the past. Sign the petition!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tuition Protests in MD

I've found in general people like to complain, but rarely do they actually do anything about it. In the state I live in there has been a lot of problems with the state budget, and daily you hear this person say this should be changed or that. They need to recognize that change will not happen unless you act by writing, calling, and rallying.

That is why I always find it refreshing when you see young people protesting for something they believe in. It shows they care enough for the cause to do more than just complain. Below is a recent article about a rally in Maryland to offer in-state tuition to undocumented students living in that state:

Immigrant Community Protests College Tuition Rates

Students protested at the University of Maryland Monday to demand easier access to higher education and paths to citizenship for illegals.

A number of former and present high school students, who are living in the U.S. illegally, rallied in support of legislation that would allow undocumented students living in Maryland to qualify for much more affordable in-state tuition rates.

Under the current law, immigrants are considered out-of-state residents. "As of right now, I can't afford one credit to go to college," said high school graduate Jenifer Merando. Merando said her goal of attending the University of Maryland has been delayed. Instead of studying, she's working to make enough money to pay out of state rates. "Because I don't have that money one year has been wasted since I graduated," she said.

Montgomery Blair High School student Manuel Flores said he just wants a chance to live the American dream."I love this country."

"They want to really blur the lines between legal and illegal," said protester Susan Payne. She continued to say people in this county illegally should not have the right to take slots away from in-state residents. "And why should they get an exemption because quote, 'their parents brought them here against their will, when they were young children.' Well their parents chose to willfully violate federal law."

The legislation pending before the Maryland General Assembly has a number of qualifiers, like the illegal immigrant must graduate from a Maryland high school.

Friday, March 14, 2008


NEW VOICE has a weekly feature of original, nonfiction essays by college, high school and middle school students. This week there is a well-written essay by Ariadne Reza, a senior at Long Island High School about the DREAM Act.

America has always been viewed as the land of opportunity, where people go to seek a better life. There are some, however, who were brought to the United States illegally when they were young. These are the children of illegal immigrants.

As they grew up, immersed in American culture, they lost all memory of their country of origin and became Americanized. Unlike their parents, they can barely remember their country of birth.

When these children graduate from high school and are ready for college, they find out that in some states they are ineligible for financial aid. Their illegal status also makes it nearly impossible to find meaningful work, making college an unreachable dream.

The DREAM Act or, The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, sponsored by Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), would grant these undocumented citizens legal residency after a conditional period of six years.

Students would have to meet certain requirements, such as graduating from high school and living in the United States for at least five consecutive years. They must also have arrived in this country before age 15. Finally, they must show "good moral character" or the absence of a criminal record.

Opponents say this act is basically rewarding criminals, but these students didn't choose to immigrate to the United States. Some argue this act would cost the government money because certain rights would have to be extended to them. But the DREAM Act would do the opposite, since the government would be able to collect revenue from new taxpayers. And people who have worked hard in school will have a chance to stand out in society.

Congress should reconsider the DREAM Act to give deserving immigrant students the opportunities for which this country is renowned.

NEW VOICES is a weekly feature with original, nonfiction essays by college, high school and middle school students. Send submissions of up to 400 words to Opinion Department, Newsday, 235 Pinelawn Rd., Melville, NY 11747. Or send e-mail to: newvoices@newsday .com or fax to 631-843-2986. Please include a photograph of yourself along with your address and your telephone number.,0,3313544.story

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

H.R. 4408 Must Be Stopped~ Call to Action

The Republicans have pushed this bill to vote even though it has not been evaluated in committee. It is urgent that everyone contact their representative.

On November 6, 2007, Rep. Shuler (D-NC) introduced H.R. 4088, the Secure America Through Verification and Enforcement Act of 2007 (the "SAVE Act"). The Shuler bill, which now has over 139 co-sponsors takes a deportation-only approach to immigration reform. Anti-immigrant Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) is a co-sponsor of H.R. 4088, along with a who's who of the least immigrant-friendly members of Congress.

The bill will:

Target minor children and families for detention and mandate the creation of a new family detention center modeled after the infamous T. Don Hutto Facility;

Confiscate private land of citizens through eminent domain for building more fences which have already proven ineffective at curbing immigration;

Increase militarization of the border through additional body armor and firearms for agents; and impose a mandatory electronic employer verification program known as the Basic Pilot Program (re-branded as E-verify) on the entire American workforce. This highly controversial program lacks necessary safeguards to protect American workers from wrongful termination and improperly identify at least 2.5 million workers as ineligible for employment. The program would also destabilize the economy by immediately removing at least 7 million undocumented employees from the entire U.S. workforce at one time.









See if your Rep. is a Sponsor Here:

Your Representatives' phone number is online here:




Thursday, March 6, 2008

Students Lobby in D,C. for DREAM Act

Another group of high school students are headed to D.C. to lobby for the DREAM Act. This is good news because we cannot let Congress forget about the DREAM Act even on an election year. Read the article below and view the video at the end of the article.

Students head to D.C. to lobby for Dream Act

A group of 10 Tennessee high school students -- many the children of illegal immigrants who arrived in the United States as long ago as 10 years -- embarked Wednesday on a journey to Washington D.C. in hopes of improving their future.

The group will join students from more than 30 states in lobbying federal lawmakers to pass a nearly seven year old bill that would grant them conditional legal status. The bill, known as the Dream Act, would clear the way for these students to earn legal residency and the ability to work if they graduate from college or serve in the armed forces. The bill, which has bipartisan support, is currently stalled in the Senate by a filibuster.

States are required to provide kindergarten though 12th-grade educations to students regardless of their legal status. Each year an estimated 65,000 undocumented students -- the number in Tennessee is unknown -- who have lived in the United States five years or more graduate from high school. Right now, these students can attend some Tennessee colleges and universities, but they are not eligible to receive federal and state financial aid.

But as the students left Nashville with hopes that their stories of academic achievement in Tennessee would help convince federal lawmakers to pass the Dream Act, state lawmakers may raise new hurdles for the students.

A pair of bills introduced to the Tennessee House and Senate this year would specifically bar the state's public colleges and universities from admitting illegal immigrants. The bill's house sponsor plans to introduce it to a House Committee next week.

VIDEO: Hear what four students from Nashville have to say about their situation and the prospects of influencing lawmakers in Washington.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Washington Post Defends Immigration Articles

Immigration Coverage in the Crossfire
by Deborah Howell
Sunday, March 2, 2008; Page B06

Readers who oppose illegal immigration often complain that The Post has too much sympathy for those living in the United States illegally and too little for those who oppose such residents.

They prefer that The Post use the term "illegal alien" and are disturbed that they sometimes are called "anti-immigrant" when they say they do not oppose legal immigration. While the Post covers many immigrant groups, most of the coverage of illegal immigration has involved Hispanics in the suburbs because that's where the controversy is.

Leslie Wilder of Alexandria wrote last fall: "Am I the only one annoyed by The Post's constant glorification of illegal immigrants? Hardly a week goes by without either an uplifting or heart-rending article."

These readers also criticize The Post's editorial page, which has consistently opposed local attempts to suppress services for immigrants, but editorials are not in my purview and do not affect news coverage.

This issue has flared nationally and locally, especially in Herndon and in Prince William County, in Virginia, and in Montgomery and Prince George's counties, in Maryland. Several readers were upset about a Feb. 23 headline on the Metro section front: "Anti-Immigrant Effort Takes Hold in Md." A secondary headline made it clearer: "Grass-Roots Movement Expands Beyond Montgomery in Targeting the Undocumented."

John Mac Michael of Alexandria wrote: "Your recent article on growing opposition to illegal aliens (immigrants?) in Maryland once again used the familiar ploy of labeling those citizens who oppose illegal aliens as being 'anti-immigrant.' This is baloney. There is a clear difference between the two classes, and I certainly welcome those who are here legally."

The headline should have been more precise. The story also drew fire from pro-immigration activists who said it didn't make clear that most people appearing at a Mount Rainier City Council meeting favored declaring the city a "sanctuary" for illegal immigrants. A correction was published.

My review of immigration stories, mostly local, over the past year and several months, showed that the coverage was mostly straightforward and informative. Because it is a huge issue, reporters throughout the Metro staff cover immigration, and three do so full time. Ashley Halsey, associate Metro editor, supervises the coverage.

A Jan. 10 story by staff writer N.C. Aizenman laid out particularly well how differently illegal immigrants and their opponents view breaking the law. A Washington Post-ABC News poll also gave national and local looks at what people are thinking.

A few "anti-immigrant" references have popped up in recent stories -- and shouldn't have. The Post also went astray in a March 18, 2007, story about a federal raid on a New England plant; the story reported on what happened to illegal immigrants swept up in the raid but never quoted immigration officials. I also worry that advocacy groups on both sides of the issue are quoted uncritically.

Readers are right that some journalists tend to write sympathetically about the underdog. But you cannot ignore the human story. "It's impossible to cover this issue without the challenges faced by people who are here illegally. We have tried not to be repetitive in those stories," Halsey said.

Have the views of those against illegal immigrants been fully told? My review included many stories quoting opponents -- as well as their march on the Mall last spring. Some feel they've been portrayed as racist and xenophobic. While some have been quoted expressing views that might be interpreted that way, most have not. Halsey said it has been "very challenging to write effectively about people opposed to illegal immigration, because they are very passionate and seem suspicious of our motives and are less welcoming to our attention when we try to talk to them about their motivations."

But there are stories that could be done that would give readers better context. How many legal immigrants are admitted to the United States every year and from what countries and in what categories? Do some racial or ethnic groups get more visas than others -- or tend to overstay visas more? There haven't been big immigration raids locally. Why? Do businesses that hire illegal immigrants think they won't be caught doing so?

Is it possible to quantify how illegal immigrants affect public school expenditures, crime and housing? Just how bad are the problems? Halsey said this is a daunting job, because trustworthy figures are hard to come by.

On terminology, Chip Beck, a State Department officer and former U.S. consul, believes it's important to use "illegal alien." Beck, who said he was not speaking for the State Department, said, "Foreign nationals who come across the border without papers or who overstay their visa are deemed 'illegal aliens.' Those are the legally correct terms. . . . The correct terminology is not derogatory but carries precise meanings under law." He sent a copy of the federal law that says: "The term 'alien' means any person not a citizen or national of the United States."

The Post does not use "alien" in news stories and prefers "illegal immigrant." Even if "alien" is legal terminology, to me, it sounds like someone from outer space. "Undocumented workers" is also discouraged. The Post stylebook says of "undocumented": "When used to describe immigrants, this is a euphemism that obscures an important fact -- that they are in this country illegally."

Deborah Howell can be reached at 202-334-7582 or