Tuesday, November 25, 2008


What is Ideas for Change in America?

Ideas for Change in America is a citizen-driven effort to identify and create momentum around the best ideas for how the Obama Administration and Congress can turn the broad call for "change" across the country into specific policies. You can help by submitting an idea for how you would change America, discussing ideas with others, and/or voting for your favorites

There's a page on change.org to pass the DREAM Act. You must register with valid e-mail address before the vote can be counted (registration is painless and easy). DREAM Act idea is currently in first place under Immigration on the site, so let's keep it that way by adding more votes. Vote here.

Friday, November 14, 2008

UC Berkeley Students Call On Obama to Enact the Dream Act

by Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday November 14, 2008

UC Berkeley students joined the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration & Immigrant Rights, and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) Thursday to launch a national campaign urging President-elect Barack Obama to enact the federal Dream Act, which would legalize federal financial aid and open a path of citizenship for undocumented immigrant college students across the nation, who are otherwise entrapped in complicated paperwork.

Held at the MLK Student Union on campus, the event—which was organized by BAMN and co-sponsored by Rising Immigrant Scholars through Education, the Latino Business Students Association, the gender and women’s studies and Spanish and Portuguese studies departments at the university and the Chancellor’s Student Opportunity Fund—started with a group of undocumented students from around the Bay Area testifying about their struggles in the absence of federal financial aid.

Calls to Chancellor Robert Birgeneau’s office for comment were not returned by press time, but a campus spokesperson confirmed that the chancellor supports the Dream Act. Birgeneau wrote an op-ed piece in support of the act for the UC Berkeley student newspaper The Daily Californian, Nov. 5.

In California, undocumented students have the right to attend a public university but are not allowed to apply for financial aid, something Thursday’s participants said they would aggressively push for once the new president is sworn in.

BAMN activists also called upon UC Berkeley to become a sanctuary campus and welcome African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and other minority and immigrant communities.

“We want to make the era of change and hope real,” said BAMN organizer Yuvette Felarca, who also teaches at Malcolm X Elementary School in Berkeley. “When we see the nation elect the first black president and yet we see that the percentage of blacks and Latinos on campuses like UC Berkeley and UCLA is so low, we need to make a change.”

Shanta Driver, national chairperson for BAMN, asked students to seize this important moment in history to start a new kind of civil rights movement which would oppose racism and bring equal opportunities to all.

“Over the last few weeks we have seen a real change in America and it has presented us with an opportunity to leave our mark on our nation,” she said to applause from the audience. “If it’s possible for America, with such a strong and deep history of racism to do this, then anything is possible. We need to resolve deep social problems and engage in a real debate and discussion on racism. “

She said that Obama should enact the Dream Act within his first 100 days in office.

“If the people who worked for Obama’s victory decide after inauguration day that their work is over it won’t happen,” Driver said. “We have to continue to be leaders of the movement that put him in power.”

Driver added that if the Dream Act failed under Obama, then generations of young people would ask, “If a black president couldn’t do it, then who can?”

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed SB 1301, which incorporates the California Dream Act, on Sept. 30, citing a staggering state economy. Thousands of students who had mobilized in support of the bill were disappointed by his decision.

“The governor said that although he shared the author’s goal of making affordable education available to all California students, given the precarious fiscal condition the state is facing right now, it would not be prudent to place additional demands on our limited financial aid resources as specified in this bill,” said Francisco Castillo, a spokesperson for Schwarzenegger.

Castillo added that the governor supported a local bill which allows undocumented students to pay in-state tuition.

Gabriella, a UC Berkeley undocumented student from El Salvador who has been in U.S. since October 2005, said that even with in-state tuition, it is difficult to make ends meet

“The reason my dad brought me here is because he wanted me to have a better life,” she said. “But my transition to UC Berkeley has been very different than that of the other students. My dad earns less than $10,000 a year. I couldn’t get enough scholarship to live on campus so I am living with my best friend’s sister in Davis. I have to commute three to four hours every day. “

Gabriella—who wants to go to law school—said that when she started out as a sophomore at her high school in California, she didn’t speak English and never imagined going to community college, let alone UC Berkeley.

“Right now I can’t get a job because I don’t have a Social Security number and residence,” she said. “Sometimes I have to skip meals in order to pay for the shuttle. I had to sacrifice many things to be at UC Berkeley. Usually people have gym, clubs or homework sessions after class, but I can’t go to any of those. My future is pretty uncertain and if the situation doesn’t change I might have to drop out. I have hope that the Dream Act might get passed one day.”

Zaira, another undocumented student at the university, echoed her thoughts.

“It’s hard to describe the life of an undocumented student on campus,” she said. “We act the same as the other students but our efforts are not reciprocated by the education system. All undocumented students are equal and deserve the same rights. There’s no reason why we should get the leftovers of education. I want to ask those opposing the Dream Act to give me one reason why it shouldn’t be made a reality.”


Thursday, November 13, 2008

New Movie Highlights DREAMers

In the trailer for the new movie "Crossing Over" one of the immigrants being followed in the storyline is a undocumented high school student. Maybe this movie will inform more Americans about the merits of the DREAM Act.

“You would uproot a fifteen-year-old teenager who came to this country when she was three years old?”

“She’s illegal. She’s removable.”

Movie synopsis:

Immigrants from around the world enter Los Angeles every day, with hopeful visions of a better life, but little notion of what that life may cost. Their desperate scenarios test the humanity of immigration enforcement officers. In 'Crossing Over,' writer-director Wayne Kramer explores the allure of the American dream, and the reality that immigrants find -- and create -- in 21st century L.A. -

Watch trailer in link below:


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Ask President-Elect Obama to Pass the DREAM Act

Have you heard? Change.gov is asking you to tell them your ideas and how to help solve the biggest challenges of this country.

Take a minute and let them know that the passage of the DREAM Act should be a priority.

Please submit it here.

Will Obama Forget about DREAMers?

Obama winning the Presidential election was a big step toward the passage of DREAM Act, but in no shape or form does it guarantee it. Advocates for DREAM Act must continue pushing, and not allow this issue to be thrown to the side or put on the back burner.

Members over at DAP have recently found two quotes Obama made about the DREAM Act while he was running for President.

P: There are many students as we speak listening to this show. Will you bring back the DREAM act and would it be part of your priorities in your first year as president?

O: As I said before, the DREAM Act is something I have been a sponsor of in the past. Dick Durbin, my senior senator from Illinois and I have worked diligently on the issue. I was a supporter of the DREAM act when I was in the state of Illinois and we were able to get it passed. I think it is the right thing to do. I think it is something that I will continue to work on.


OBAMA: Well, I just think that it is very important for everybody to vote. And so, I hope that people are moving forward with early voting. You’ve got an opportunity I think in this election to choose somebody like myself, who has worked for 20 years alongside people of all races, as a community organizer, somebody who was a civil rights lawyer, somebody who as a state legislator at the state level, helped to promote our version of the DREAM act so that children could go to college, regardless of their citizenship status. At the federal level, somebody who has worked not only on immigration reform, but also on the DREAM Act, also on making sure that we are dealing with the dropout situation in our communities. So I think you can have confidence that I will be a champion for the values of South Texas when I am president of the United States of America. I hope everybody considers voting for me, and I hope they take the time to vote early.


Let us work on pressuring President-elect Obama to keep his word.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Chancellor's Message to the President-Elect

Robert J. Birgeneau

Dear Mr. President:

As America awakens this morning, you will already be taking on the heavy mantle of leadership. You will be looked upon to solve, among other things, the problems of our faltering economy, failing health care, increased global warming and an uncertain energy future, and the war in Iraq. In the midst of all this, I want to remind you of a precious resource that is ready to help and one that is outstandingly good America's higher education system.

Higher education in the United States, both private and public, is the envy of the world. We lead the world in education, research and innovation. We have a National Academy of Sciences formally charged with advising government. The National Academy of Sciences pointed out in a report that we must bolster science and engineering if we are to retain America's global leadership in innovation. The Department of Energy supports almost 50 percent of all federally funded research in the physical sciences and the National Institutes of Health is paramount for support of research in our health and life sciences. These investments are critically important for the nation not only to provide support to faculty to carry out basic and applied research but to attract and train graduate students who will be the next generation of discoverers and innovators. We must also broaden support for humanities and social sciences as part of a strong research ecosystem. Today's great global challenges cross many disciplines and require solutions that bring perspectives that are social and humanistic as well as scientific.

There is much incontrovertible evidence of the benefits of higher education both to individuals and to society. According to the US Census Bureau, the national median annual income of college graduates without advanced degrees is $51,700, while those with only a high school education earn just over $30,000 and those without a high school diploma earn less than $20,000 a year. Those with only a high school education are twice as likely to be unemployed and three times as likely to require public assistance as college graduates. Better-educated people are more likely to vote and to participate in the civic life of their communities. Education helps with the development of the critical thinking skills that are necessary to succeed in a global society. To give every qualified student the opportunity for a college education, we must look at significantly increasing financial aid for those with need. This must be done through increasing grants, not loans. Students who are already financially disadvantaged as they enter college should not also graduate disadvantaged with high debts. Programs that offer loan forgiveness to encourage college graduates to go into public service positions, which are often low-paying, should be aggressively implemented.

There is one group of students in particular who need your immediate attention-undocumented students. Our failure to give these students a path to success and to citizenship is a terrible waste of young talent-talent that this country desperately needs. Each year across the nation, 50,000 to 60,000 undocumented students graduate from high school after having spent at least five years in this country. The Dream Act, which provided access to financial aid and a thoughtfully mapped-out path to citizenship, became entangled in the failed immigration bill. It is time to revive and pass the act on its own merits.

Finally, you should know that universities genuinely want to provide the best education possible to our students. We value our autonomy and understand that with that privilege comes responsibility to those who support us. We have always been and will continue to be fully accountable. Proposals to tax our endowments and to impose upon us highly bureaucratic measures of accountability will take us in the wrong direction. We should preserve the policies that have made it possible for our higher education system to be the envy of the world. In that way, we can pledge our help to you, Mr. President, to bring the power of our unparalleled system of research and education to work in support of a better America and a better world.