Tuesday, December 7, 2010

From TX to DC- 29th day of Hunger Strike

Lucy Martinez, pictured above, speaks to Senator Hutchison's immigration staffer about the critical need for the DREAM Act. Lucy is on her 29th day of a hunger strike and the question remains if Senator Hutchison will put politics aside and stand with hard working immigrant youth. The time is now and hard working immigrant youth like the Texas Hunger Strikers and those across the nation cannot wait any longer. Our lives are on the line here. Please call Senator Hutchison and ask her to support the new DREAM Act bill that has been rewritten with HER desired changes. It is time to put politics aside and stand up for what is right. 

8 6 6 -5 8 7- 3 0 2 3

Julieta gives her Undergraduate and Masters diplomas in Nursing to Senator Hutchison as a reminder of why we need the DREAM Act to pass. Without the DREAM Act her diplomas are nothing but eight years of hard work on paper. 

Also in attendance at this meeting is Brent Wilkes, the LULAC National Executive Director, who has been inspired by the TX Hunger Strikers and has joined them on the strike. Mr. Wilkes is standing up for all the DREAMers and reminds Senator Hutchison of the award she accepted from LULAC in 2009 specifically for her support of the DREAM Act. 

National LULAC Executive Director tells Senator Hutchison not to forget her dedication and responsibility to the DREAM Act youth she once stood with. 

Just in case, here are those changes that mirror what Senator Hutchison was asking for and that she got:   

  •  10 years of temporary status vs. the previous 6 years
  •   Specifically barring DREAMers from access to health care subsidies etc.
  •   Age cap is 30 vs. the previous of 35
  •   Removal of the language that would have not punished states for providing in-state tuition 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Response: Michelle Malkin Talks Down to TX Hunger Strikers

TX immigrant youth preparing to deliver check to Senator Hutchison

During a talk given at the University of Texas at Austin , Michelle Malkin put into question the contributions DREAM Act beneficiaries could make to this country. In her own words, she said:

You know, based on their debate skills, I am not sure how much they even have to contribute to this country. And you can quote me on that.”

Well, more than quote we will challenge her accuracy and put our money where our mouth is-something Michelle Malkin would be wise to do as well.

The conservative blogger’s comments come in a timely manner to discuss the economic imperative of the DREAM Act. In fact, on Thursday, just two days after Malkin's bullying comments, the Congressional Budget office released their estimate that the DREAM Act would increase revenues by $2.3 billion in the 2011-2020 period and even after accounting for spending, enacting the DREAM Act would reduce deficits by about $1.4 billion over the 2011-2020 period.   

She told Him Ranjit, an undocumented biomedical engineering student on campus, to get to the back of the line stating that he could wait and that she “would rather expend limited resources deporting”. Well, no, Him cannot wait. He was on his 9th day of a hunger strike when Malkin suggested that his situation was not urgent. He asked for real and pragmatic solutions other than the DREAM Act and Michelle Malkin offered none.  I do believe others like the families of DREAM Act eligible youth who have committed suicide and the Reverend Lorenza Andrade Smith who is currently detained and on her 10th day of a hunger strike for the DREAM Act would also disagree with Malkin’s analysis of non-urgency. This denial of urgency is the biggest damage that people like Michelle Malkin and those who choose to align themselves with her do to our youth. I would suggest these people check their moral compass.

Furthermore, resources may be limited for enforcing the border but Congress sure does try to alleviate this by passing $600 million border enforcement bill. Additionally, the Obama administration goes on a deportation rampage and deports a record number of people. So, how Michelle Malkin can think it is okay to tell undocumented youth to wait is beyond me.  

Even with all the misinformation that Malkin has been known to spread through paranoid and inflated language, perhaps the most ridiculous misinformation is that undocumented youth are not being chased down and deported. She responded to Him Ranjit in the following way:

“You get your education; I am not bothering you; and guess what? There is no ICE agent chasing you down right now.”

Again, home grown talent and DREAM Act eligible youth like Saad Nabeel would disagree. Saad was deported to Bangladesh in 2009 during his freshman year at the University of Texas in Arlington after having lived in the US for 15 years. He now has to deal with the consequences of our broken immigration system and returning to a country he barely knows. In his own words, here is his story

The point is that Michelle Malkin offers no solutions. Rather, she thrives on bullying tactics that only polarize the debate and take us nowhere. Whichever group drank the Michelle Malkin tea and decided to bring her to campus is certainly not even worth mentioning. Next, please.

The fact is that our lives are on the line here. It is now the 27th day of the Texas hunger strike and suicide notes keep coming in. We cannot wait any longer. Senator Hutchison must take clear steps to move forward with the DREAM Act in the lame duck session. Her concerns have already been address and expectations have been met with the new DREAM Act bill. As immigrant youth and allies have shown, not only in Texas but also across the country, we are willing to risk arrest and deportation to stand up for what is right. We expect the Senator to have the same courage.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Senator Hutchison, The Eyes of TX Are Upon You

On Monday Dream Act youth and allies staged a peaceful sit it at Senator Hutchison’s San Antonio office asking the decade old question of “What will it take?” On the Senator’s watch, sixteen of these courageous youth and community members were arrested. This included Pastor Lorenza Andrade Smith who has decided to stay in jail until the DREAM Act gets a vote in the Senate.

Pastor Smith is a leader of C.O.P.S/ Metro Alliance. She is a clergywoman for the Rio Grande Conference for the United Methodist Church and has been fasting since Thanksgiving. The alliance meets with the mayor, councilmen and Senators to discuss community issues and they have discussed immigration concerns such as the DREAM Act.

Two days later, the Houston community followed the escalation at the Mickey Leland Federal Building as a new version of the DREAM Act came out. Even though the changes in the new version are exactly what Senator Hutchison indicated she wanted, the Senator locked the doors on Houston’s DREAM Act youth and supporters.

 It seems business as usual at Suite 800 was not so usual in the middle of the workweek.

Today, the action continues in Austin where a rally is scheduled outside Senator Hutchison’s office. In all this, we expect to get a more positive answer from the Senator as we are sure she knows the stakes. We certainly are not able to continue doing the supposed “right” actions like countless of lobby visits and at the end of the day being locked out.

Senator Hutchison, we want you to stand with us and as you know, the eyes of Texas are upon you. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

San Antonio-DREAMs Arrested: 

The last person doing sit-in at Senator Hutchison's office has been arrested, including Reverend Lorenza Andrade Smith who is a leader of C.O.P.S Metro alliance. She's a clergy for the Rio Grande Conference for United Methodist Church, which serves the Hispanic community. She is has been fasting since Thanksgiving and is in complete solidarity as a clergy.

Cops usher in uncertainty for DREAM Act youth on Hutchison's Watch

TX Hunger Strike participants and DREAM Act leaders who are staging sit-in are circled, linking arms as Senator Hutchison arrests them for believing in their DREAMs. Again, what will it take Senator? We hope to see you in D.C. with a positive vote for the DREAM Act.

Still waiting to see if Hutchison will arrest DREAM Act youth and allies doing sit in inside office. Will Senator Hutchison be reasonable and save the DREAM Act and our home grown talent? 

U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison gives 5 min warning to DREAM Act supporters to leave. 10 people left inside sitting, arms linked and chanting!
Update: ‎8:29 PM

After nearly 10 years of lobbying Senator Hutchison for the DREAM Act, she will take a mere 20 minutes to arrest hard working immigrant youth. 

 The Senator is sending cop cars on their way to make arrests. 

Immigrant youth call for her to be reasonable. 
Texas NOW!
Sit-in Continues at KBH San Antonio Office

Will the TX Senator stand up for common sense legislation? What will it take, Senator Hutchison? 
Update: 7: 45 PM 

KBH Office has been closed since 5 P.M. As of now SA Police Department is still involved and seeking to make arrests and stop our DREAMs. Attorneys are on the ground making the rounds.  
Update: SA Police Department Reining In 

The Texas Senator prepares to arrest hard working immigrant youth and their allies. San Antonio Police Department is now reigning in to stop our DREAMs.

6:24 PM
Sit-in still in progress. Will Hutchison stand with hardworking immigrant youth or will she arrest them?

Sit-in at Hutchison's office for DREAM. Update: Dream Act leaders, Lucina Martinez and Pamela DreamAct Reséndiz NOT leaving.
Supporter at KBH office. DREAM Act NOW!

Claudia : "We are waiting to get a call from U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. We have news helicopters over us. Squad cars and paddy wagons assembled across the treet at SACU" 

Texas NOW!

Update: As of 5:35, No Arrests at Hutchison's San Antonio office
Half Hour After Office Closes 

Image of Die-in outside Hutchison's office

November 29, 2010
For Immediate Release
William Wise 210.232.5893.
DREAM Act Supporters Stage Sit-in at KBH Office
Sit-in Still In Progress, No Arrests Made 

San Antonio- After initiating a state-wide hunger strike in support of the DREAM Act,  San Antonio DREAM Act supporters have escalated their actions and staged a sit-in at Senator Hutchison's San Antonio office.  The students, which include DREAM-eligible youth and U.S. citizens, will not leave the office until Senator Hutchison commits to voting for the DREAM Act in the lame duck session.

"Desperate times call for desperate measures," said My Le.  "I wish it didn't have to come to this, but we don't have any time to waste."

"I wish I had celebrated Thanksgiving with my family and friends," added Felipe Vargas. "But we'll have our  Thanksgiving celebration when the DREAM Act passes."

Lucina Martinez added, 
"We know that the Senator understands our plight, that she is sensible, and compassionate.  She voted for the DREAM Act in 2007, and her constituent responses were always favorable.  She's only recently changed her tune.  We hope to remind her that our futures, that our lives depend on her support."

Below are the profiles of the four individuals sitting in at Senator Hutchison's office:

Julio Lopez: His hometown is San Antonio. He is in his last year of undergraduate study at the University of Texas at San Antonio. He is taking a double-major in Anthropology and Mexican American Studies and is an active member of  the Mexican American Studies Student Organization.

Lucina Martinez: Born in Mexico City but moved to Dallas, TX with her parents at age 6.  She is currently a sophomore at the University of Texas at San Antonio where she is double majoring in Women's Studies and Mexican American Studies. She's a DREAM Act beneficiary and is on her 20th day of the Hunger Strike.

Felipe Vargas: Currently finishing doctorate in History, Philosophy and Education Policy from Indiana University Bloomington. He is on the 20th day of the hunger strike.

My Le: Hometown is Saigon, Vietnam. She moved to the United States at the age of 5. She is not a DREAM Act beneficiary but a committed ally. She is currently a sophomore at the University of Texas at San Antonio and is double majoring in Art and Psychology with a minor in Women's Studies.

Not too long ago, Senator Hutchison was a supporter of the DREAM Act.  In 2007, the Senator made a compassionate floor speech in favor of the DREAM Act.  In June 2010, the Senator's constituent responses in regards to the DREAM Act were positive.  Below is an excerpt from a June 2010 constituent response from Senator Hutchison on the DREAM Act:

"Among our immigrant population, there are young people who were brought to this country as minors and have not yet attained legal status. These young people have attended and graduated from American high schools. They wish to attend or are attending American colleges and universities in order to enjoy prosperity. Their inability to garner employment following college graduation leaves them in an unfortunate position. I believe that we must find a way to help assimilate these college graduates into our country. In addition to the economic benefit of retaining college graduates in our country, there is a compassionate reason for us to try to work this out."

For updates, visit the UTSA DREAM Act blog here: http://dreamactutsa.blogspot.com/


From Flavia at DREAMActivist.org: 

Texas NOW!

Today, day 20 of the hunger strike, seven Texans, including immigrant youth and their allies, are staging a sit-in in Senator Hutchison's San Antonio office, urging her to join them in supporting the DREAM Act, legislation based on hard work, education, and service.

"We've done everything. For years, we've called, we've lobbied, we've gathered petitions, and we've been on hunger strike for over two weeks. This country's future cannot wait anymore. It's time to pass the DREAM Act," Lucina Martinez, DREAM-eligible undocumented student at UTSA.

Right now, all eyes are on Texas and we need your help to make sure we can make an impact.
Take Action:

 Senator Hutchison in Washington D.C., and ask her to support the DREAM Act: 866.996.5161

Hi, my name is ____, and I'm calling to ask Senator Hutchison to support immigrant youth in Texas and invest in the future of our country by supporting the DREAM Act. Thanks!
Write to Senator Hutchison. Use this online fax service for free!

Go to Senator Hutchison's office (and bring some concerned friends). If you'd like to make a citizen lobby visit, email flavia@dreamactivist.org for a 10-minute, over-the-phone lobby clinic.

Join a DREAM Act group in your area. Email flavia@dreamactivist.org with your name, contact information, zipcode, and we'll connect you with a DREAM Act group in your area!

Tell 5 friends to do the same, and spread the word!
Thanks for your support,

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Via the New York State Immigrant Action Fund

Wall Street Journal Endorses DREAM Act

November 27, 2010
By Pat Young
The Wall Street Journal editorialized in favor of the DREAM Act today. Here are a few excerpts:
The immigration debate continues to fester in the absence of any White House leadership. But it’s in the interests of the country that Republicans in the next Congress find some room for compromise, and pending legislation aimed at undocumented youths is a good place to start.
The Dream Act would create a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrant children who attend college or join the military. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has announced that he will schedule a vote on the measure during the lame duck session of Congress. Our sources say Mr. Reid probably lacks the Democratic votes to pass the bill, even if a few Republicans support it. Mr. Reid has behaved cynically on immigration and many Republicans suspect that his real goal is to spin GOP votes against the bill as evidence that Republicans are anti-immigrant.
Republicans are under no obligation to play Mr. Reid’s game and give cover to a White House and Democratic Congress that promised to make immigration reform a priority but haven’t done so. Still, the Dream Act has enjoyed Republican support in the past from the likes of Senators Orrin Hatch of Utah and Richard Lugar of Indiana. And come January, the measure deserves to be part of any GOP effort to tackle immigration reform.
Restrictionists dismiss the Dream Act as an amnesty that rewards people who entered the country illegally. But the bill targets individuals brought here by their parents as children. What is to be gained by holding otherwise law-abiding young people, who had no say in coming to this country, responsible for the illegal actions of others? The Dream Act also makes legal status contingent on school achievement and military service, the type of behavior that ought to be encouraged and rewarded.
We’d prefer that border reform start by expanding legal channels of entry for people who come here to work. There would be little need for a Dream Act if more U.S. work visas had been available for the parents of these children. The U.S. focus on border security has, along with the economic downturn, had some effect on reducing illegal entries. But walls, fences and employer crackdowns mainly produce thriving markets in human smuggling and document fraud and make a mockery of the rule of law, especially in some border areas.
Supporting the Dream Act also makes political sense for Republicans, who will have a tough time winning national elections without more Hispanic support. Polls show that Hispanic-American priorities tend to match those of other voters—the economy, jobs, education and so forth. Nevertheless, immigration has symbolic importance among Hispanics as a sign of political recognition and respect.
If Republicans hope to limit President Obama to one term, they’ll need to win in Mountain West states—Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico—with fast-growing Hispanic populations. The Dream Act is an opportunity for the GOP to send a welcoming signal to these voters. More important, it would do right by undocumented youths who did nothing to deserve their current vulnerability to deportation.
"I tried" Will Not Be Enough-DREAMers, Get Your List of Demands Ready

UT-Austin student asks the right question to
Republicans and Democrats alike.
From the left and the right we have been demonized and dehumanized and too often get treated as tools to advance agendas. Perhaps at one point we were welcomed in good spirit by our supposed allies on the Hill but that good spirit has not delivered legislative wins for undocumented youth and our families. It leaves us all to wonder why, after nearly ten years, we are still starving and without that lifeline that many of us need and have been promised. Well, the smiles and promises from our “friends” on the Hill are not enough and they never have been no matter how much we have been told otherwise by advocacy organizations. 

I would say there is a big problem when DREAMers and allies are on their 16th day of a hunger strike and we still have to fight to get respect. There is a big problem when we have to justify going on hunger strikes when it comes to targeting Democrats but suddenly when it is a Republican target it is perfectly okay and inspiring.

One of the things I have understood very well while in this fight is that we must not let our guard down in anything but especially when it comes to trust. There is a big misconception that this is a fight solely against the conservative forces that block everything in Congress. This fight is just as much about pushing the left and everyone else in between who have shown time and time again that they do not genuinely stand with us.  At the end of the day, politicians will be politicians. One side will fight against the other and both will fight against us. As we continue in this mess let’s remember that our responsibility is to keep good perspective and not allow any one side to take our immigrant community for granted. As the lame duck continues we definitely need to concentrate on targeting Republicans but we would also do good in crafting our list of demands that our “friends” in DC must deliver on in the likely scenario that they just check the “I tried” box once again.

Oh, and just in case anyone is wondering if "demanding" is appropriate, the answer to that is an unequivocal YES. What is not appropriate is for politicians and advocacy organizations to continue with business as usual while we have stopped our lives to devote all we have to the passage of the DREAM Act. It is our responsibility to stand up and demand results because even our "best friends" in Congress will not do it on their own. We must get results for our community on the ground because these politicians have won their power at our expense and the big advocacy organizations that back them up are just the same. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Operation Turkey

Thanksgiving day came and the UT Austin students, on their 4th day of their hunger strike for the DREAM Act, welcomed the day with a community service project. Despite not being able to eat, they served food for families at a local pantry. The task was difficult but their will and dedication proved to be strong. Check out this video documenting a bit of the action. Enjoy.

ULI Hunger Strikers Give Back

Him Ranjit : “Fighting for Our Lives”

When we're fighting for our lives, 
we won't stop till we win.
My name is Him Ranjit. I'm a sophomore at UT-Austin. I am a
future engineer studying Biomedical Engineering and Government. I am an active student here in the UT community, involved in University Leadership Initiative, getting people out to vote and being involved in sports and other events. I am, by any means, very ordinary student like any of you; I study in PCL till late at night, work out in Gregory Gym, go to the football games, stay in long lines at Wendy's just to get my daily meals or just sleep in the couches of the Texas Union in between classes. I am very much like everybody in this university expect for a nine digit number.

More after the jump.

Meet Loren Campos. He's undocumented and a student at the University of Texas at Austin. He has joined the TX Hunger strike for the DREAM Act and is on day 6. The following is his story. 

Seven more years full of desperation and fear of deportation”

It was an unusual evening when I crossed the Mexico-US border. The excitement of exploring and learning from a new culture was juxtaposed with the uncertainty and obscurity of not knowing how this transition will impact my life. I was 11 at the time. Now, 10 years later, I have a clear vision of the consequences. 

Continue reading after the jump.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cross Posted from the Daily Texan.

DREAM allies join hunger strike 

By Audrey White, Daily Texan Staff
Published: Monday, November 22, 2010
DT Image
Andrew Torrey | Daily Texan Staff
Junior Roberto Flotte gives a Native American blessing to students participating in the hunger strike to pressure a decision on the DREAM Act on the West Mall on Monday.
Eight UT students will join a statewide hunger strike in support of the DREAM Act.
Their primary aim for the strike is to urge Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, to support the legislation, they said.
The DREAM Act would guarantee a pathway to permanent legal residency for undocumented students who came to the U.S. before the age of 16, have no criminal record and spend two years in college or the military. A group of UT-San Antonio students have been on a hunger strike since Nov. 10.
“The DREAM Act is not an amnesty bill; it will only benefit those that will contribute back to this country,” said chemistry freshman Adrian Reyna, a member of undocumented student and allies group University Leadership Initiative. “We will strike until we have a response — a response in favor not of us, but in favor of this country.”
U.S. Senate majority leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced last week that he would push for the DREAM Act as a stand-alone bill in hopes of passing it during the lame-duck session. U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., set it to appear before the House on Nov. 29.
Although Hutchison has expressed support for the DREAM Act in the past, she said that she will not vote for it in its current form, claiming it is too far-reaching and may benefit those who do not actually graduate from U.S. high schools. The hunger strikes will not affect her position on the legislation, said Hutchison spokeswoman Courtney Sanders.
“The senator’s position on the current legislation remains the same, but she has expressed her concern for the safety and welfare of the students who are pursuing the hunger strike,” Sanders said in a statement. “The senator appreciates their passion but strongly believes that they should pursue safer and more constructive methods of promoting their cause.”
The UT students who are participating in the hunger strike said they will continue their strike indefinitely until Hutchison agrees to support the legislation or until the U.S. Senate takes a vote.
“We feel like we have done pretty much everything else — letter writing, phone banking, rallies, press conferences,” said civil engineering senior Loren Campos, ULI president and an undocumented student. “We hope the hunger strike will create the urgency necessary to let Hutchison know that there is a support base of Texans here and across the state that want her to vote for the DREAM Act as it is.”

University Students go on Hunger Strike, Urge Passage of the DREAM Act

Austin- As most Texans prepare for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, eight undocumented University of Texas students and allies will participate in a statewide hunger strike to urge passage of the DREAM Act.  The Texas students will go without food until Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison commits to support the DREAM Act which is expected to come to a vote in the near future.

Who: University of Texas Students and Allies
When: Monday, November 22, 2010 at 11:30 AM- Indefinite 
Where:  Austin 

Edilsa Lopez, a UT student who will participate in the hunger strike said, "Some people say this move is drastic, but they don't understand our desperation.  For all the students who have been separated from their families, who can't see their siblings, who live each day in fear, this is for them."

President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid have urged for passage of the DREAM Act during the lame duck session.  Additionally, a national poll found that 70 percent of Americans support the DREAM Act.

"DREAMers have met with the Senator herself and members of her staff on various occasions," said Loren Campos, ULI President and hunger striker. "She refuses to give us an answer one way or the other.  We know that Senator Cornyn is hopeless, but we expect better from Senator Hutchison.  She's always been level headed and usually puts public policy before politics."

Him Ranjit added, "We have done everything we have been asked.  We have stayed out of trouble, we are graduating from prestigious universities, all we want is to give back.  We are running out of time." 

Follow us on twitter:  

The University Leadership Initiative (ULI) harnesses the talents, abilities and determination of youth - particularly college students - to affect long-term change in a proactive manner. Specifically, ULI conducts outreach at local, state, and national levels toaddress the dilemma faced by young people who were brought to the United States years ago as undocumented immigrant children, but who have since grow up in the United States, have stayed out of trouble, and wish to continue their education on to college.
# # #