Last Wednesday, July 1st, Walter Lara held a press conference in Washington D.C. hoping to persuade Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, to stop his pending deportation.
Thanks to SWER, SEIU, First Focus, and FLIC’s much appreciated efforts—including planning a fast for Walter’s cause—Florida Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson asked a top Homeland Security official to postpone Lara’s deportation because “he has earned the chance to live and work here and call America home.” Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL) and Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-FL) introduced a private bill for the same thing. On July 2nd, The Department of Homeland Security moved to defer Walter Lara’s scheduled deportation that was set for July 6th, 2009 to July 3rd, 2010—providing him with a one year stay in the U.S. “As I look to celebrate Independence Day with family and friends this weekend, I have once again seen what makes America the best country in the world. Americans are fair, just, and kind” Walter said.
At this point, Lara is allowed to apply for a job legally. Unfortunately he cannot apply for citizenship. Although his case has been deferred, he may be deported at any time. “Walter Lara’s deferred action is a major step towards the passage of the DREAM Act and a symbol for youth power in Miami. As we celebrate this victory, we must remember that are 2 million students in the USA who are going through a very similar situation,” said SWER’s Felipe Matos. Hopefully the DREAM Act will be passed in the next year so that undocumented students like Walter can have hope for brighter futures.
How exciting–DREAM Activists around the country have attracted local and national media attention through the national graduation ceremony in Washington D.C. and continued work with their legislative representatives. Check out this New York Times editorial and this coverage in the Washington Post.
Additional press coverage here:
MDC students rally against deportations
(en Espanol: En el Miami-Dade College protestan contra la deportación de un estudiante indocumentado)
Reclamaron por el ‘Dream Act’ Estudiantes y activistas en el Congreso
Estudiantes abogan por la Ley del Sueño Celebran protesta y graduación simbólica
Immigrant Narratives : Choose Your Mother or Your Child
Deborah Townsend: DREAM Act gives young immigrants opportunity to thrive
Our own Florida delegation has been listening–and we thank them!
We were able to secure a private bill for Walter Lara in the House of Representatives, sponsored by Rep. Kendrick Meek and co-sponsored by Rep. Corrine Brown.
Also, Rep. Alcee Hastings has agreed to co-sponsor the DREAM Act!
Let’s keep building the momentum–for the sake of Walter and all DREAMers!
This afternoon, at Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Campus, members of Students Working for Equal Rights, the Florida Immigrant Coalition and We Count! showed their support for DREAMers–attracting many students and passers-by with their passionate arguments for why passing the DREAM Act must be an urgent priority, and why Walter Lara–and all other DREAM students–should not be deported. They should be embraced as being “as American as anyone else,” said Maria Rodriguez, FLIC’s executive director.
Dr. Rolando Montoya, Miami Dade College’s provost, advocated passionately for the DREAM Act, along with three representatives of the Miami Dade College Student Government Associations (SGA): Gabriel Bardo, Vice President at Wolfson Campus; Hoki Tse, President at West Campus; and Juan Rodriguez, President at InterAmerican Campus. Our MC was Alejo Stark, an experienced SWER core leader.
The SWER students set up an empty “classroom,” surrounded by caution tape, to symbolize how undocumented students are excluded from the world of higher education–for no other reason than their immigration status. Most came here as young children, with their parents–who wanted them to have better lives and develop their potential. All who spoke made reference to DREAMers’ academic achievements and drive to contribute back to American society.
We can hardly wait to hear back from the SWER members who went to Washington D.C. for the national DREAM Act graduation ceremony!