Two Years of Success: In-State Tuition


Daniela Donoso“I was born in Ecuador and came at the age of 6. I didn’t know I was undocumented until my parents talked to us (my brother and I) and they told us we might not go to college. At Florida State, the tuition difference is around 6,500 for in state students, for out of staters is can be almost 22 thousand. I just graduated from Florida State University and i’M a clear example on what undocumented students can do when given the opportunity with policies like In-State tuition.”

-Daniela Donoso


Sergio Gomez“I am Sergio Gomez, a sophomore at Florida State University, a Finance major, and an immigrant from Bogotá, Colombia. Having been moved to the United States at the tender age of three, I have grown up an American while still retaining a humble perspective on the opportunities my new home has provided with. But I must say what really compels me to be grateful for every little opportunity that I’m handed is the fear that it might all be taken away. As much as I want America to be a permanent part of my life, I am not a citizen or even a permanent resident. Unfortunately my family and I have been denied our legal status here in the United States. We took an honest path of immigration, got our required visas, never once broke a law (not even a traffic infraction), and have been productive members of society. I’m currently attending the Florida State University. Paying out of pocket is challenging enough but without in-state tuition my dreams of graduating as a seminole from FSU would never be realized.”  

– Sergio Gomez



Mariana Castro

“I came to Florida from Peru with my parents when I was 10 years old. I graduated in the top 10% of my high school class and was awarded a Bright Futures Scholarship. And then it was taken away because I’m an undocumented student. With the Bright Futures Scholarship and in-state tuition, I’d only have to pay approximately $3,000 for tuition each semester at UF instead of the estimated $6,000. According to UF’s website, out-of-state undergraduate students “should add $22,278 to projected tuition/fees” for the 2014-15 school year. I never thought College was a possibility, but thanks to In-State tuition, now is a reality.

-Mariana Castro


Julio Calderon

“I came to the United States at the age of 16, from Honduras. I never believed college was an option so I never really applied to any institution while in High School. I started at Miami Dade College because they gave me the opportunity to attend there while undocumented. I had to pay the out-of-State fee which made it impossible for me to graduate within two years, but eventually I did. While going to FIU I realized the Out-of-State tuition was almost impossible to pay so I started taking only one class. When the In-State tuition passed, then a full time enrollment for undocumented students changed from 7,500 to 2,500. It made it easier for many of us to attend and graduate faster.” -Julio Calderon 

Abril 6: Miami Marcha para pedir la Reforma Migratoria Ahora!

El sábado 6 de abril, miles de personas del sur de la Florida marcharán para pedir un nuevo sistema migratorio con un camino a la ciudadanía que sea real e incluyente y que mantenga a las familias unidas.

La marcha iniciará a las 12:00 del medio día en el Parque José Martí de la Pequeña Habana (362 SW 4th Ave, Miami, FL 33130) y terminara en la antorcha de la amistad en el Bayfront Park. Ver el mapa acá 

¡Acompáñanos!  Confirma tu participación en Facebook

Ya es Hora! 12:00 p.m. Concentración en el Parque José Martí. El Arzobispo de Miami, Thomas Wenski, y el Alcalde de la Ciudad de Miami, Tomas Regalado, estarán presentes.

1:00 p.m. Marcha (ver mapa acá)

2:00 p.m. Llegada a la Antorcha de la Amistad en el Bayfront Park

2:30 p.m. Ceremonia simbólica de naturalización

3:00 p.m. Cierre con música en vivo: BachacoKuyayky

Senador Rubio, un poco de amor para nuestras familias?

Más allá del debate político, la repuesta del Senador Rubio al mensaje del Presidente este pasado martes fue un momento histórico para nuestro país y especialmente para nuestro estado.

Senator Marco Rubio

El Sen. Rubio, hijo cubano de un barman y una trabajadora del hogar, fue el primer latino en hablarle a la nación entera después del Presidente. Ese momento fue el mejor testimonio de lo que sucede cuando los nuevos americanos reciben una oportunidad equitativa de pertenecer a este país, de mantener sus familias unidas y de labrar su camino a la ciudadanía. Fue un momento especialmente importante pues estaba respondiendo a un Presidente quien es también hijo de un inmigrante africano. Una imagen poderosa de la Nueva America.

Ojalá todas las familias inmigrantes pudieran tener la misma oportunidad. La historia de Rubio sería muy diferente si sus padres hubieran sido deportados, como le sucedes a muchas familias actualmente. Mientras celebras el día del Amor y la Amistad, envíale un mensaje al Sen. Rubio y a tus congresistas, pidiéndoles que demuestran su amor por nuestras familias apoyando un nuevo y mejor sistema de inmigración que funcione para todos, y no solo para algunos.

Hoy en día, miles de familias de la Florida siguen en las sombras necesitando la misma oportunidad, sufriendo la mano dura de las detenciones y deportaciones más costosas de nuestra historia, mientras esperan por décadas para poder reunirse con sus familias. Todas las familias deberían tener la misma oportunidad de labrar su camino hacia el sueño americano, así como lo hizo la familia Rubio.

Envíale un mensaje al Sen. Rubio y a tus congresistas, y pídeles que DIGAN QUE SI a un camino a la ciudadanía que sea real e incluyente para TODAS las familias; pídeles que le DIGAN QUE SI a la Florida. Comparte la historia de tu familia en tu mensaje.

Es hora de que nuestros congresistas escuchen nuestras historias:

Will Senator Rubio show us some love?

After all political spin subsided on Sen. Marco Rubio’s response to the State of the Union Address, we may have missed a noteworthy moment for our nation and our state.

Senator Marco RubioThe moment Senator Rubio, the Cuban son of a bartender and a domestic worker, with sweat rolling down his temple and water quenching his thirst, became the first Latino to address the nation, he became living testimony of what is possible when New Americans are given a chance to fully belong, keep their families together, and have equal opportunity to citizenship. This was particularly poignant as he responded to our nation’s President, the son of a Kenyan immigrant. A snapshot of the New America.

If only all new or aspiring Americans could have the same opportunity. Rubio’s story may have turned out differently if his parents had faced deportation as so many families do today. As we celebrate Valentine’s Day, send a message to Sen. Rubio and your Member of Congress asking them to show our families some love by supporting a new and better immigration system that works equally for all, and not just for some.

Today, there are thousands of Floridian families waiting in the shadows for the same opportunity, suffering at the hands of the most expensive immigration enforcement in our history while waiting in line for decades to be reunited with their families. All families should have the same opportunity to climb the ladder of the American Dream from the bottom-up, just like the Rubio family did.

Send your message to Sen. Rubio and your Member of Congress, and ask them to SAY YES to a real and inclusive roadmap to citizenship for ALL families, ask them to SAY YES to Florida. Share your family story as new or old immigrants.

It’s time for them to hear our stories:

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Sign the Petition: Say Yes to Florida!


We, Floridians, have stepped up to SAY NO to anti-immigrant laws and we were succesful in making our voices heard.

Now is time to ask our Senators and Representatives who represent us in DC to SAY YES to opportunity, to immigration reform, to a real path to citizenship, SAY YES to Florida!

Send a message to your U.S. Senator and Representative. Make your voice heard.

Click here to send your message now!

Broward, segundo condado de la Florida en actuar contra el robo de salarios

Otra victoria contra el robo de salarios!!!

El martes en la tarde, la Junta de Comisionados del Condado de Broward aprobó una Ordenanza para la Recuperación Salarial. Esta ordenanza ayudará a miles de trabajadores en el condado de Broward que actualmente no tienen a quién recurrir cuando no les pagan sus salarios.

Broward es ahora oficialmente el segundo condado en la Florida en poner en práctica esta iniciativa. Miami-Dade fue el primero en hacerlo cuando aprobó su ordenanza en 2010, y hasta ahora ha recuperado, a través de conciliación, $ 511,429.26 en salarios no pagados.

Ganamos una batalla, pero la guerra continúa. La Florida es actualmente uno de los peores estados en el país a la hora de proteger a los trabajadores contra el robo de salarios –que incluye los trabajadores que no cobran horas extras ni el salario mínimo, aquellos que se ven obligados a trabajar fuera de horario, o aquellos a quienes no les pagan en absoluto. Por qué? Porque no hay un Departamento de Trabajo a nivel estatal y la gran mayoría de los trabajadores no están cubiertos por las leyes federales. El condado de Broward tiene actualmente el tercer mayor número de casos en la Florida: cerca de 5.000 sólo en los últimos tres años.

Isabel Fernandez, de Dania Beach, FL en la reunión de la Comisión de Broward

Estuve en la reunión de ayer pidiendo a los Comisionados que votaran a favor de la ordenanza. Hable en nombre de mis amigos cercanos que han sido víctimas de robo de salario en Broward y no han sido capaces de recuperar sus salarios después de meses“, dice María Isabel Fernández, residente de Dania Beach, en el condado de Broward. “Me emocioné cuando supe que la Ordenanza pasó! Puede ser demasiado tarde para mis amigos, pero en el futuro va a ayudar a otras personas como ellos que ahora tendrán la posibilidad de recuperar sus salarios sin tener que contratar a un abogado o esperar meses sin ningún tipo de ingresos“.

Además de María Isabel, más de 16 personas se enlistaron para hablar durante la reunión, incluidos miembros de la comunidad y defensores de los derechos de los trabajadores. Los representantes de las asociaciones y cámaras empresariales, así como algunos comisionados, insistieron en desestimar la magnitud del problema diciendo que eran sólo “unas pocas manzanas podridas”, que ya existían leyes federales que protegían a la mayoría de los trabajadores, y que Broward solo necesitaba brindarles asistencia legal a las víctimas de robo de salario cuando decidían llevar su caso a la corte.

Afortunadamente, expertos en el tema que estaban presentes pudieron corregir esos malos entendidos. La abogada del condado confirmó que las leyes estatales y federales no cubren a todos los trabajadores, y cuando lo hacen, no los cubre de forma equitativa. Y el mejor comentario de uno de los asistentes, fue: “si esta ordenanza no es necesaria, ¿por qué Miami-Dade ha podido recuperar tanto dinero en salarios no pagados gracias a su propia ordenanza?

Esta victoria se debe gracias al Grupo de Trabajo contra el Robo de Salarios de la Florida, una coalición de organizaciones y personas que trabajan noche y día para parar el robo de salarios!

Necesitamos parar el robo de salarios de una buena vez, y tú nos puedes ayudar! 

Si tu o alguien que conoces, han sido víctimas de robo de salarios en cualquier parte de la Florida, comparte tu historia con nosotros en Facebook o envía un mensaje a


Broward, second County in Florida to take action against Wage Theft!

Another victory against wage theft!!!

Yesterday evening, the Broward County Board of Commissioners stood up for workers and honest businesses by approving a Wage Recovery Ordinance that will help thousands of workers in Broward County who currently have nowhere to turn when they are not paid.

Broward is now officially the second county in Florida to implement this program. Miami-Dade passed the first Ordinance in Florida back in 2010 and so far has been able to recover $511,429.26 in unpaid wages through conciliation.

Unfortunately, there’s still a lot of work to do. Florida is still one of the worst states in the country when it comes to wage theft cases -which include workers who are not paid overtime or minimum wage, are forced to work off the clock, or are not paid at all. Why? Because there is no state level Department of Labor and a vast majority of workers are not covered by federal wage and hour laws. Broward County, alone, has the third largest number in the state with nearly 5,000 cases only in the last three years.

Isabel Fernandez, from Dania Beach, FL at the Broward Commission meeting

I was at the meeting yesterday asking Commissioners to vote yes for the Ordinance, speaking on behalf of my close friends who are victims of wage theft in our county and haven’t been able to recover their wages after months of effort,” says Maria Isabel Fernandez, a resident of Dania Beach in Broward County. “I was thrilled when the Ordinance passed! It may be too late for my friends, but it will help other people like them in the future who will now have the possibility of recovering the salaries they earned through their work without having to hire a lawyer and wait months without any income.”

Along with Maria Isabel, over 16 speakers signed up for public input, including community members and advocates. Representatives of business associations and chambers, as well as some Commissioners, insisted on dismissing the magnitude of the problem saying there were only “a few bad apples,” that federal laws were already in place to protect the majority of workers, and that all Broward needed to do was to provide legal aid for those workers who wanted to take their case to the already busy court system.

Luckily some experts in the room were able to correct those misunderstandings. But the best remark was done by one of the participants in the public, “if this ordinance wasn’t necessary, why has Miami-Dade been able to recover so much in unpaid wages with its ordinance?

These victory is thanks to the work of the Florida Wage Theft Task Force, a coalition of organizations and people that work day and night to stop the epidemic of wage theft in the sunshine state. Congratulations team!!!

As we said, the work has just begun! Still thousands of workers in our state work without being paid enough or at all.

We need to STOP WAGE THEFT, and you can help us!

If you or someone you know has been a victim of wage theft, share your story with us. Post a comment on our Facebook page, or send us an e-mail:

Despite restrictions, groups register more than 100,000 Florida voters!

Voting rights advocates have registered more than 100,000 voters prior to the state’s registration deadline, despite extensive efforts by state officials to limit new registrations for Florida citizens.

Florida New Majority, SEIU Florida State Council, Florida Mi Familia Vota, Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC), Florida National Action Network and the National Council of La Raza collaborated for the registration milestone.  The majority of the registrations occurred in the month before the state’s Oct. 9 registration deadline and after a federal judge’s late summer decision to overturn a new state law that placed restrictions on groups involved in voter registration drives.

“Ultimately, the effort to limit voter registration was overturned by the courts, but defeated by the work of people committed to ensuring every eligible voter has the opportunity to vote in the upcoming election,” said Gihan Perera, executive director of Florida New Majority. “Today, 100,000 more people will be able to exercise their right to participate in their democracy.”

The purpose of the new law’s was made clear with the resulting drop in registrations.  According to one news report, registrations over the past two presidential cycles averaged more than 200,000 new Democrats in the year before the election (July 1 to July 31). This year, that number had fallen to just over 11,000.

The law was so restrictive that it led the state to threaten a New Smyrna Beach high school teacher with thousands of dollars in fines as a result of registering her students to vote in 2011.

“As Americans, we cherish the right to vote and it is thrilling, especially for new citizens, to be active participants in electing our political leaders,” said Yulissa M. Arce, Mi Familia Vota’s Florida State Coordinator.  “After the state created purge lists filled with errors and the attempts to curtail registrations, Latinos in Florida are even more committed not only to registering, but to voting in 2012.”

The registration totals show that eligible voters are determined to participate in the election, despite a flurry of activity by legislators and state officials to limit access to voting, said Kathy Bird of the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC).

“Despite these organized efforts to curb Latino participation through restrictions on third-party groups and voter purges, NCLR is proud to have  been able to register over 54,000 Hispanics to vote in the upcoming election,” said Jared Nordlund, Deputy Director, Field Campaigns.  “Now we look forward to turning our efforts to encouraging Florida Hispanics to take advantage of voting early and ensuring their votes count.”

“During the past month, we have worked with voters in various counties in Florida inviting them to stand up for their families and communities and vote,” Bird said. “In the weeks before the election, we will be working with voters to make sure they have all the information they need and that they feel empowered to go to the polls.”

This month, Florida New Majority and SEIU Florida State Council, Florida Mi Familia Vota and (FLIC) will turn their attention to early voting, which begins Oct. 27.   Voters can also vote by absentee ballot, which can be requested through local supervisors of election.

Any voters facing challenges with registration or with voting can call 1-866-OUR-VOTE for assistance or 1-888-Ve-Y-Vota for the assistance in Spanish.

Será Jose Manuel el primer abogado indocumentado de la Florida?

SE TESTIGO DE ESTE MOMENTO HISTÓRICO! Martes 2 de octubre de 9:00 a 9:40 a.m.

Mañana por la mañana, la Coalición de Inmigrantes de la Florida junto a amigos en toda la nación, estaremos pegados a nuestras pantalla, apoyando a José Manuel Godinez-Samperio mientras su caso es escuchado en la Corte Suprema de la Florida.

La Corte escuchará los argumentos sobre si José Manuel, un inmigrante indocumentado, puede ser admitido al Colegio de Abogados de la Florida para ejercer como abogado. José Manuel tendrá el honor de tener al distinguido Prof. Sandy D’Alemberte argumentando a su favor. El Prof. D’Alemberte, autor de la Constitución de la Florida, fue presidente de la American Bar Association, Presidente del FSU y Decano de la Facultad de Derecho.

Sé testigo de este momento histórico mañana haciendo clic aquí.

José Manuel nació en México y llegó a la Florida con sus padres a la edad de 9 años. A través de los años él se esforzó, superando muchos obstáculos para continuar su educación. En 2007, después de graduarse de New College y de involucrarse en el movimiento pro-inmigrante, solicitó a la Escuela de Derecho de la Universidad Estatal de la Florida (FSU), admitiendo en su ensayo el hecho de ser indocumentado. Después de graduarse y pasar el examen de la barra, solicitó ser admitido al Colegio de Abogados de Florida, pero esta institución ahora delegado el asunto a manos de la Corte Suprema de la Florida.

Estas son algunas breves palabras de José Manuel en la víspera de su juicio:

“Me siento ansioso, pero también animado por el apoyo abrumador, no sólo desde el movimiento pro-inmigrante, sino incluso de aquellos que normalmente adoptan sentimientos anti-inmigrantes. Mañana espero tener siete jueces imparciales haciendo un montón de preguntas diferentes. Espero que vean que he cumplido con todos los requisitos. Si me aceptan, me sentiría extraordinario. Podré ser un abogado y practicar derecho; la justicia siempre ha sido muy importante para mí. ¿Que si alguna vez dudé de poder llegar a ser un abogado? Todo el tiempo. Semestre tras semestre, me pregunté cómo podría pagar la matrícula; estudiaba, pero sin saber si iba a poder tomar el examen de la barra. Pero mi familia me inspiró. “El NO ya lo TIENES”, dijeron. Si yo lo intento, podría tener un tal vez; sin saber a ciencia cierta pero siempre avanzando. Yo obtengo mi fuerza de Dios. Si es su voluntad, va a suceder. Mi mensaje para todos nosotros es no darnos por vencidos. Sigamos intentándolo. Tenemos que ganar a todos los niveles. En última instancia, necesitamos una reforma migratoria federal”.

Damos las gracias a José Manuel y todos aquellos que se enfrentan a la exclusión, pero tienen el coraje y la fuerza para defender la dignidad y la libertad. Reciban nuestras oraciones y que su ejemplo nos inspire a todos a la acción.

Haz click en este enlace para ver la audiencia en el caso de José Manuel:

Will Jose Manuel be the first undocumented lawyer in Florida?

WITNESS HISTORY!  Tuesday, October 2nd, 9 am to 9:40 am

Tomorrow morning, the Florida Immigrant Coalition and other friends across the nation, will be glued to our computer screens, standing with Jose Manuel Godinez-Sampeiro ashis case is heard at the Florida Supreme Court.

The Court will hear arguments on whether Jose Manuel, an undocumented immigrant, can be admitted to the Florida Bar to practice law. Jose Manuel is honored to have the Distinguished Prof. Sandy D’Alemberte arguing in his favor. Prof. D’Alemberte authored the Florida Constitution, was President of the American Bar Association, President of FSU and Dean of the Law School.

You can witness part of history tomorrow by clicking here.

Jose Manuel was born in Mexico and came to Florida with his parents at the age of 9. Through the years he endeavored, overcoming many obstacles to pursue his education. Back in 2007, after graduating from New College and becoming involved with the immigrant rights movement, he applied to Florida State University (FSU) Law School, admitting in his application essay to being undocumented. After graduating and passing the Bar exam, he solicited to be admitted to the Florida Bar. Now The Florida Bar is referring the question to the Florida Supreme Court.

Below are brief words from Jose Manuel on the eve of his court case:

“I am feeling anxious, but also encouraged by overwhelming support; not just from the immigrant rights movement, but even from those who normally espouse anti-immigrant sentiment. Tomorrow I expect to have seven impartial Justices asking a lot of different questions. I hope they see that I have complied with all the requirements. If I get admitted, I would feel extraordinary. I would be able to be a lawyer and practice law, which is about justice and justice has always been very important to me. Did I ever doubt I could become a lawyer? All the time. Semester after semester, I wondered if and how I could afford to pay tuition; studying but never knowing whether I would be allowed to take the Bar exam. But my family inspired me. “El NO ya lo tienes”, they said. If I gave it a shot, I would have a maybe, not knowing but continuing forward. I get my strength from God. If it is His will, it will happen. My message to all of us is don’t give up. Keep trying. We have to win at all levels. Ultimately, we need federal immigration reform.”

We are grateful to Jose Manuel and all those who face exclusion but find the courage and strength to stand for dignity and freedom. May they receive our prayers and may their example inspire us all to action.

Click on this link to hear the arguments in Jose Manuel’s case: