Latino USA

Posts Tagged ‘undocumented’

Jose Antonio Vargas: Undocumented and Unafraid

 

 

Jose Antonio Vargas has a Pulitzer Prize, but he lacks a Green Card. Vargas came to the United States at age 12 to discover his immigration papers were fake a few years later. He went on to a brilliant career winning the coveted Pulitzer in 2008. Maria Hinojosa talks to him about his upcoming documentary, the media bias against undocumented immigrants, and President Obama as the #DeporterInChief.

 

Photo By Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Undocumented Driving

North Carolina will finally issue driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants who applied to Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The only thing is these licenses won’t look like everyone else’s. Latino USA contributor Michelle Johnson reports.


Click here to download this week’s show.

michellesheadshotMichelle Johnson is a multimedia journalist who lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. When she is not working, you are likely to find her out with the dog, talking to strangers and collecting stories.

THIS LAND IS NOT YOUR LAND

Maria Hinojosa talks to Ted Genoways, the author of an article in this month’s Harpers called “This Land is Not Your Land.” It explores the roots of anti-immigrant sentiments in the town of Fremont, Nebraska.


Click here to download this week’s show. Image courtesy of Harper’s Magazine.

Genoways_headshot

Ted Genoways is a contributing writer at Mother Jones and editor-at-large at OnEarth. His book on Hormel and the American recession is forthcoming from HarperCollins.

 

COLLEGE WITHOUT PAPERS

How are colleges and universities in the US are dealing with undocumented students? We survey the nation and find a wide range – some schools, like the Illinois Institute of Technology, have a special liaison for them; other schools offer in-state tuition rates.  Some even offer “underground” classes. And not everyone agrees on what to do next.


Click here to download this week’s show. Photo courtesy of Freedom University Georgia. To find out more about Freedom University, check out their homepage. And to find out more about Tom Tancredo’s organization, The Rocky Mountain Foundation, click here.

 

 

Crowds of DREAMers – Undocumented Immigrant Youth – Get Legal Counseling as We Ask “What’s Next

Undocumented youth seeking legal advice. (Photo: Aaron Leaf)

The basement of St. Mary’s Church on Manhattan’s Lower East Side resembled a makeshift Department of Motor Vehicles office Wednesday, as undocumented immigrant youth waited in long lines to consult with lawyers about their deferred action applications.

In fact, the DMV is where many of the applicants planned to go once their applications are approved, a driver’s license being one of the perks of finally having legal status.

On the first day that U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services accepted applications for deferred action, 22 year old undocumented immigrant Eduardo Resendiz was among those seeking advice.  He told Fi2W that while he’s happy with the opportunities the program will give him, especially the right to work legally, he’s not “completely satisfied.”

Eduardo Resendiz (Photo: Aaron Leaf)

Resendiz, who immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico, said he will continue to advocate for a solution not just for students but for entire undocumented families.

“Like many undocumented immigrants, I consider this my homeland,” he said, “and I believe only the DREAM Actwill give us the sense that we are truly Americans.

Resendiz pointed out that even if his application is accepted, the rest of his family—living here since 2005—will remain undocumented including his 14-year-old sister and his parents who, as he put it, “continue to live in the shadows”

Sara Martinez, who came to the U.S. from Mexico as a baby, is planning to apply for deferred action but hasn’t managed to get documents together that prove she has been living here for five consecutive years. She has been organizing workshops across New York city as part of theNew York State Youth Leadership Council and is busy strategizing with other activists ways to keep the momentum going.

Sara Martinez (Photo: Aaron Leaf)

“Deferred action is not the same as the DREAM Act. We have to educate our communities about the risk involved in signing that application,” she said. Martinez sees deferred action as just a step toward passing the federal DREAM Act and also a New York state DREAM Act that would make undocumented students eligible for student loans.

Organized by the New York Immigration Coalition, the legal clinic at St. Mary’s had dozens of volunteer attorneys sitting in long rows meeting with applicants and going through their forms and documents.

Jacki Esposito, the director of immigration advocacy with the NYIC, is one of the organizers of the clinics. Although currently she is concentrating on helping people through the deferred action process, she thinks the next step is clear.

Deferred action, said Esposito, is a major victory that “builds momentum and mobilizes immigrant youth in a new way.” But it’s bittersweet: “Many DREAMer’s parents still live in fear.”

According to Esposito, the next phase will be to activate all the new members of the DREAM Act movement, youth who’ve become politically active for the first time through this process and feel empowered to take the change even further.

“It’s no question that the president’s announcement was a response to two years of advocacy,” said Esposito. “They know how hard they worked,” she said referring to the DREAMers, “and they won.”

New York wasn’t the only place where legal clinics were drawing crowds. A deferred action workshop in Chicago expected to help 1,500 undocumented youth with their applications ended up drawing an estimated crowd of 50,000. Many were turned away.

US Senator Dick Durbin, one of the original authors of the DREAM Act, was one of the hosts of the event. When Fi2W asked for his opinion on what should happen next, his staff pointed us to a speech he gave last month to the Center for American Progress.

Durbin believes that deferred action, far from being a permanent solution, is an important step toward, as he puts it, “sensible immigration reform.” He said deferred action “will forever change the debate.” His theory is that as the American public interacts with many of the beneficiaries of the program, they will see the contributions they’re making and be open to greater reform.

Feet in 2 Worlds is supported by the New York Community Trust and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with additional support from the Ralph E. Odgen Foundation and the Sirus Fund. 

Aaron Leaf is a freelance writer and editor who has reported on human rights issues from Zambia, Liberia, Canada and Peru. He is a graduate of Ryerson University and the former editor of Ricepaper, a journal of Asian Canadian arts and culture.

Gearing Up for Deferred Action

Beginning Wednesday, as many as 1.76 million young undocumented immigrants can apply for the reprieve President Obama announced in June, a program the government calls “deferred action for childhood arrivals.” Those who qualify will be considered on a case-by-case basis and, if approved, will be able to apply to stay and work in this country legally for up to two years. The application will cost $465 and require several background checks along with extensive financial, medical, education, and other records.

Requests for deferred action will be processed if the applicant is an unauthorized immigrant under the age of 31; came to the United States before her 16th birthday; has continuously resided in the country for five years; is currently in school, has graduated from high school or received GED equivalency, or is an honorably discharged veteran; has not been convicted of a felony or a significant misdemeanor; and is determined not to be a threat to national security or public safety.

Additional details will be released on Wednesday. In the meantime, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has provided a hotline and answers to frequently asked questions on its website.

Many young immigrants welcome the opportunity to come out of the shadows and work or go to college.

Claudia Jimenez, a 19 year old Venezuelan native who has been in the U.S. since she was eight years old, shared her enthusiasm with the New York Times. Since graduating from high school last year, she has not been able to work or attend college. “Now I have something,” she said. “I can actually do something with my life. Before it was like my life was on pause.”

But others are wary. Time magazine features Karla Zapata who, while ecstatic over the prospect of getting a work permit, expressed her fears.

After years of living in the shadows, Zapata and her friends aren’t convinced it’s a good idea to give their personal information to the government when there are no guarantees that President Obama’s new program for young immigrants will last and no promise they’ll be accepted into it in the first place. Some see that ambiguity as an invitation for possible deportation.

Groups have rallied to support young immigrants like Jimenez and Zapata who hope to begin the process of legalizing their status (the program is not an amnesty and does not provide a path to citizenship).

The New York Daily News reports:

United We Dream, a network of youth-led organizations across the country, launched a national campaign with its partners last week, to offer assistance to as many of the hundreds of thousands of Dreamers eligible to take advantage of the program … The campaign, titled We Own the DREAM/¡Unete Al Sueño!, hopes to guarantee that there is a national and local infrastructure to support Dreamers who are eligible for this opportunity to remain in the United States to complete their education and contribute to the economy.

Key partners in this infrastructure include the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), Immigration Advocates Network (IAN), and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG-NIP).

Young people who apply for deferred action will need all the help they can get to navigate what’s likely to be a cumbersome and confusing process. Since the president’s announcement, immigrant advocates have warned about unscrupulous attorneys, notarios(public notaries) and “immigration consultants” who are out to fleece desperate immigrants and their families.

At the end of the day the deferred action program is only a temporary reprieve. Only comprehensive immigration reform through legislation will once and for all address the issue of unauthorized immigration as well as other shortcomings of our immigration system.

As November fast approaches, it is crucial to know where the presidential candidates stand on all of this. We know that President Obama supports DREAMers. What about Governor Romney?

In reaction to the administration’s June announcement, he said “I think the action that the president took today makes it more difficult to reach that long-term solution because an executive order of course is just a short-term matter … It could be reversed by subsequent presidents.” He may have been referring to himself after infamously declaring during the Republican primaries that he thought the DREAM Act is a mistake and he would veto it.

You can follow Erwin de Leon on Twitter or read his blog. Image courtesy of flickr

Fi2W is supported by the New York Community Trust and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with additional support from the Ralph E. Odgen Foundation and the Sirus Fund.

Erwin de Leon is a Policy Researcher and writer based in Washington, DC. He writes on immigration, LGBT, and nonprofit issues. You can follow him on Twitter at @ErwindeLeon.

Infiltrating Broward

For most people who are undocumented, being detained by immigration officials is probably their biggest fear. But that’s not the case for a young group of undocumented activists who infiltrated a Florida detention center to find low priority detainees, one year since the ICE memo calling for prosecutorial discretion.

Some of the audio in this piece was provided by Alex Rivera who has been working on a documentary following the activists.


Click here to download this week’s show. Image courtesy of Flickr.

 

 

DREAMERS AWAKEN

We speak to three self-styled “dreamers” about their hopes and fears just after President Obama announced an executive order that would halt the deportations of some young undocumented people.


Click here to download this week’s show. Photo: http://action.dreamactivist.org/

 

Prerna Lal is a student at The George Washington University Law School. She is the co-founder of DreamActivist.Org, and she also serves as a board member for Immigration Equality, an organization that advocates for the rights of LGBT immigrants.

 

Mohammad Abdollahi is originally from Iran. He came to the U.S. when he was three and became undocumented after en error in his paperwork process. He is one of the founders of National Immigrant Youth Alliance. He was also arrested in 2010 while protesting for passage of the DREAM Act at the Tucson offices of Sen. John McCain.

 

Lizbeth Mateo is originally from Oaxaca, Mexico. She grew up in Los Angeles where she went to school and became the first in her family to graduate from Cal State University, Northridge. Lizbeth is co-founder of DreamActivist California and The National Immigrant Youth Alliance – an undocumented youth-LED network of grassroots organizations, campus-based student groups and individuals committed to achieving equality for all immigrant youth, regardless of their legal status.

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