PRESS ADVISORY: DREAM Team Los Angeles Reacts to $25M Scholarship Fund

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PRESS ADVISORY

For immediate release:

Tuesday, February 4, 2014 Media inquiries: media@dreamteamla.org

DREAM Team Los Angeles Reacts to $25M Scholarship Fund

DREAM Team Los Angeles responds to the announcement of $25 million dollars in scholarships to undocumented students and welcomes any financial support to those who have managed to overcome the many challenges and difficulties these students face in their education.

The scholarship fund is set up for DACA recipients (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) who pursue career ready degrees. The reality is that only five to ten percent of undocumented students go on to college. While these scholarships help students we would like to see a focus on fixing the structural problems that create burdening circumstances for undocumented students. These scholarships are not a substitute for justice in the educational system.

By focusing on high GPA’s and “career-ready” degrees this fund continues to support the notion of the “exceptional” immigrant, something that does not reflect the overwhelming majority of undocumented immigrants who work every day to make a better life for their families and are in dire need of administrative relief since they face the ongoing fear of deportation.

“We just don’t need money for college, we need our families too. Every student needs a support system to succeed. We shouldn’t be going to college while we are worried that our parents may not be home when we come back.” – Antonio Elizando

It’s ironic that many of those endorsing this DACA related college scholarship program represent the political party that was the most virulent in their opposition to the President’s authority to grant such relief, and who are now opposing broader relief. The authority of the President to grant administrative relief for childhood arrivals can also be extended to their parents.

This scholarship fund is welcomed and will assist a great number of undocumented students, but we also hope that some of the money can be directed at increasing the percentage of undocumented students going to college. We will work with TheDream.US scholarship fund and our community partners to ensure that as many eligible students as possible apply for this award prior to the March 31, 2014 deadline.

Contact Kevin at 562-522-4712 or Edber at 323-681-2429 to arrange for interview.

Full Text of DREAM Team LA’s Response to SOTU and Republican Response

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 28, 2014

DREAM Team Los Angeles Response to SOTU Address & Republican Response

http://bit.ly/sotutext

Los Angeles, CA – DREAM Team Los Angeles, undocumented activist youth advocating for the rights of all 11 million undocumented persons were surprised that despite both parties stated desires to address immigration reform it occupied only two sentences in almost 90 minutes of speech.

TEXT OF SPEECH

Good evening,

Dream Team Los Angeles viewed president Obama’s State of the Union address as well as the Republican response and we feel that it is essential to acknowledge their failure to address immigration other than in passing. It is our belief that in the face of this lack of acknowledgement of immigrant issues, the immigrant rights community must actively force acknowledgement.

President Obama has publicly outlined his vision for immigration reform during his second term in office. This vision was said to include the possibility of legalization for the 11 million undocumented residents in this country. However, while he eloquently speaks on the need for bipartisanship, the president has not evolved in his approach. He continues to repeat many of the talking points that date back as far as the 2012 election-reiterating that both parties have a desire to bring legal status to many of our classmates, co-workers, neighbors, and parents who are here without papers. If the President wanted to talk about the “realities” of these communities, however, he would look towards his own record on immigration as over 2 million people have been deported during his time in the White House, higher than any other previous administration. The President has seen the expansion of the Secure Communities program that has ripped mothers and fathers from their families, and has left immigrant communities in a state of fear. The President says he’s done dealing with a divided Congress and will do his best to advance his agenda of moving forward. For once, we agree that this is the necessary direction. We have witnessed both political parties in the House of Representatives fail to formulate a productive plan and the Senate’s sole achievement is in passing a deeply problematic bill.

The President claims that he is no longer waiting for Congress to get work done in this country and thus, we call on him to use executive authority to provide administrative relief for the larger undocumented immigrant community, as he did in June 2012 with younger immigrants, whom the general public refers to as “Dreamers”. If the President really thinks of himself as a champion of immigrant rights, then he will not waste time in taking administrative action on this human rights issue. We feel that it would be morally irresponsible to not pressure the President as he sits by while another million innocent community and family members get deported in the coming years. Our immigrant community cannot longer afford another workplace raid or a family member in deportation proceedings. He has the authority to make institutional changes such as eliminating the Secure Communities program or providing discretion to give undocumented immigrants lawful presence while the nation awaits humane immigration reform. This country faces challenges with the economy, poverty, and civil rights, among many others, but immigration can begin to be repaired immediately if the president so chooses. Anyone who believes that legalizing immigrants and granting them immediate relief will not move us closer to a more prosperous state is misguided and is ignoring the psychological havoc allowed to run rampant throughout our communities.

Both parties talked about “dreams” in their speeches, repeating the constantly proclaimed idea that when people come to the United States no dream is too big. But, despite needing almost 3 million new immigrant workers each year for a stable economy the government only issues about 400,000 visas, thus making the “dream” a nightmare for undocumented immigrant families. How many kids are not being kissed goodnight by their parents…how many working mothers are coming home and not being embraced in their spouse’s arms due to record high deportations and congressional inaction? The answer is simple. Far too many.

On the topic of the economy and the wealth gap, giving immigrants the opportunity to earn a temporary work permit while Congress considers an immigration bill makes fiscal sense for growth. Immigrants are part of the solution, not the problem. Many immigrants lose their jobs out of fear of having to drive on a longer commute or are afraid to enter the workforce because they lack work authorization. Undocumented immigrants contribute to various work sectors in addition to filling a gap in our farm worker void. Immigrants also yearn to go to work at their business, or office, or school, and in turn, spend money in the local economy. Additionally, undocumented workers pay billions in taxes every year that ultimately help fund this nation’s most critical services including Medicare, which they are currently barred from accessing.

Both parties talk about creating jobs yet continue to ignore the contribution to the economy of undocumented and immigrant workers. For every one migrant worker in agriculture, three other jobs are created in packaging, distribution, and retail; jobs that are overwhelmingly filled by U.S. citizens. We don’t need new programs to create jobs. We have an 11 million strong workforce that just needs to be formally integrated into the economy. This alone will increase the tax base and reduce the federal deficit. No other job creation program proposed by either party can come close to this economic boost.

An increased workforce is necessary to sustain this nation’s demand for labor and will provide the benefit of creating increased contribution to our neighborhood    economies. However, this boost of economic growth cannot happen as long as deportation quotas prioritize incarcerated immigrants over an undocumented immigrant having the legal right to work. Immigrants, without legal work authorization, are forced to accept jobs that, in many cases, pay below the minimum wage. Everyone in this country, regardless of their immigration status, should have the opportunity for upward mobility. It is up to the President, and the stroke of his pen, to give immigrant workers a chance to work without fear of never returning to their loved ones.

The most urgent priority for our undocumented brothers and sisters is to grant them relief from deportation, therefore, we are rather indifferent on whether legalization is achieved through a comprehensive manner, or through a piecemeal step-by-step approach as proposed by the Republicans. Unfortunately, many politicians are quick to dismiss the piecemeal approach and stubbornly focus on one huge immigration reform bill when they are well-aware of the polarized nature of Congress. And Republicans have yet to take the first step. Thus, we look forward to any immigrant-related bills in the House that help immigrants come out of the shadows with legalization, tuition equity, or immigrant-detention oversight. Our community’s hardships are not meant to be politically manipulated by either the President, politicians, or non-profit executive directors. If a piecemeal approach or whatever legislative method achievable is needed to bring a consensus on granting a reasonable path to legalization, it would be irresponsible of us not to consider the option. We will hold each political party accountable in the upcoming month’s debate on how to bring a lasting solution to our community’s second-class condition.

In closing, we call on all politicians, non-profits, agencies, and all those invested in immigrant rights to press for administrative relief for the undocumented community until some sort of immigration reform takes place. Congress, until a deal can be reached you can take tangible steps towards relief like eliminating mandatory bed counts in detention facilities, and addressing the bloated budget of ICE that determines a 6 year old child is a priority for deportation. The struggle for a humane reaction to our immigration system’s woes will go on, but our community cannot wait. The President has made clear claims that he supports keeping families together. Congress has made clear claims that they support immigration reform. Now is the time to take the right course of action and acknowledge the humanity of this issue by ensuring that both parties take action today. Thank you.

In solidarity,

DREAM Team Los Angeles

 

DREAM Team Los Angeles Response to SOTU Address & Republican Response

 

                                                              www.dreamteamla.org

Follow at: @dreamteam_la  Like at: /dreamteamlosangeles  Email us:  media@dreamteamla.org

PRESS ADVISORY

For immediate release:
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 Media inquiries: media@dreamteamla.org
DREAM Team Los Angeles Response to SOTU Address & Republican Response
DREAM Team Los Angeles, undocumented activist youth advocating for the rights of all 11 million undocumented persons were surprised that despite both parties stated desires to address immigration reform it occupied only two sentences in almost 90 minutes of speech.

The president spoke of bipartisan need to pass immigration reform, reverting back to talking points from before 2012. Republicans spoke of a need to take a step by step approach, having not taken a single step in the past two years since they first spoke of the need to rebrand their party and outreach to the immigrant community.

DREAM Team Los Angeles has taken the unprecedented step to issue our own video response address to call attention to what was not brought by either party; that in the past six years over 2 million people have been deported due to the president’s policies and congressional inaction.

Our community cannot wait one day more while both parties pander to their base and fail to address the human rights issue of more than 1,000 families being separated each day. Families that by either party’s criteria would qualify to adjust their status. Any piecemeal, or comprehensive reform efforts begin with immediate relief from deportations. There are steps both the President can take as well as congress.

While both parties talk about jobs, issuing work permits to the 11 million strong workforce is an effective way of boosting the economy, increasing the tax base, and reducing the federal deficit, something economists say is critical for job growth.

Link to the video response: http://bit.ly/dtlasotu    Media Kit: http://bit.ly/dtla0129

 DREAM Team Los Angeles activists will be available for interview Wednesday morning, January 29, 2014 to give their reaction, many of whom have participated in civil disobedience action and risked their own deportations to bring attention to record deportations and affect policy change.

Contact Kevin at 562-522-4712 or Edber at 323-681-2429 to arrange for interview.