Stop Raul’s Deportation

12 May

When he was just 10 years old, Raul Zamora came to the United States with his family from Mexico. He has grown up here ever since, calling this country his home and doing his best to better himself and his community. Raul, who is now 21 years old, is an Urban Studies Major at the University of Texas in Austin. He has received recognition from Senator Gonzalo Barrientos for outstanding academic achievement in Spanish Literature and composition. Prior to Attending the University of Texas, Raul attended Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas for two years on a Soccer Scholarship.

On November 6th, 2009, however, Raul’s bright future came under attack when he was arrested after being stopped by the University of Texas Police Department for a broken taillight. He was then transferred to ICE, and was put in deportation proceedings. Now, Raul must fight to stay in this country to finish his degree and contribute to his country.

Help stop the deportation of Raul who is great Athlete and an outstanding Student.

1.  Sign petition to ask President Obama to stop the deportation of Raul and other young and talented people like him.

2. Like Facebook Group

2. Follow him on twitter @zamora_raul

A Time to Reflect

5 May

This past weekend ULIers enjoyed a refreshing and unforgettable experience at the End of Year Retreat. We laughed, played, told our stories and even cried. At the end of the day, we became stronger and more united.

To see a video click on the picture.

Jose Luis Zelaya #out

22 Apr

Jose Luis Zelaya, a proud aggie and aspiring teacher sharing his amazing story in the Texas DREAM Alliance Coming Out Day in Texas A&M on April 16, 2011.

Don’t forget to check out the stories of Juana Guzman, Daniel Olvera and Adrian Reyna.

Follow Daniel @daniel_mty, Juana @juanaguzm and Jose Luis @chepeluis2010

The Consequences of a Circumstance by Adrian Reyna

19 Apr

Much love fellow friends!

On April 15th of this month of April I faced my biggest fear. I defeated a barrier that pushed me back in society.

The minutes before I went on that podium to share with the world, in a reasonable way, that I was ready to be free. To liberate myself from all these years of fear, confusion, a limbo full of pain and oppression, and fight for what is FAIR, and there it was: signs saying I was a criminal. Comparing my life to a drinking game. In those minutes before I went up to that podium, a wave of scattered feelings overwhelmed me:

If only they knew the pain I have felt.
If only they knew what my parents have gone through.
If only they knew how long I have been waiting to be “legal”
If only they knew what it feels to be referred to as an “illegal alien”
If they knew what it is to lie to your friends about little things, why don’t you have a licence Adrian?
If they knew how it feels to be called a criminal, with the weight of a thief, a rapist, even a murderer?
If only they knew what it is to deprive yourself because you can’t work and get money?

Does it make me a masochist that I stay in this country, the country I call my home, when my own peers, the youth I grew up with, hurts me and those around me with all this hate?

Is it possible that people sit there and think that I want to be here “illegally”? If only they knew how long I’ve been waiting…. 16 years now since our petition from my grandmother was filed. Can’t they understand that there is no way we could have planned 16 years in advance that our life would be impacted in Mexico which made us migrate to the U.S. What is so hard about understanding that people cannot plan these things, immigration is a natural process seen through history and current laws make it unaccessible. We had no choice. I’m sure my parents stood there with this choice: Life in a free country, or death in a violent country.

I went up there, and I did it. Undocumented, Unafraid, Unashamed. Stood strong, and let them know who the boss was. Or so I thought. It wasn’t 10 minutes before the antithesis of my own life came to me, and asked me to speak with him.

“You are here illegally, and you are WRONG to come up here and wipe your ass with the law of the land”

Does he really think I want to sit here and BREAK the law? That is why I am here saying I am undocumented, exercising my first amendment rights, asking the world to be FAIR! This is my home, this is my country, this is OUR LAND. Yours and mine.

I learned to ride a bike in these streets.
I learned to speak English and my first movie theater experience was here.
My favorite TV shows are Law & Order: SVU.
I always dreamed of the day of my prom.
I always dreamed of college and its parties.
I am not different. We are brothers and sisters.

How hard is it for people to understand, I do not want to break the law, I never meant to break the law. My parents were the heroes to my survival. My family has been victim of cartel violence in Mexico. Standing here as a victim of a circumstance that I have no control over, I ask for fairness. If I go back, not just my life, but that of my family, could be in peril. I ask for people around me to see the reality of my words. We need the DREAM Act. I am proud to be an American, and I dream of the day I can be treated as one by my fellow peers, brothers, and sisters.

The Beginning of a Dreamer’s Realizations by Juana Guzman

19 Apr

Last semester, I began my first year at UT Austin with the intent to become involved in the fight for the DREAM Act.  It is quite easy to passively advocate for a cause, but honestly, that is not enough to make the change happen.  I am ashamed to say that after the DREAM Act failed to pass the Senate in December, I began to distance myself from the movement altogether.  However, it is not easy to ignore something that defines my entire life.  Even if I was to continue trying to ignore it, I know the problem still exists, and the students that keep fighting still exist. it’s not like they disappear every time the government stops talking directly about undocumented students.

On Friday, April 15, I traveled with the University Leadership Initiative to Aggieland, for the event Coming Out of the Shadows: Undocumented and Unafraid.  Witnessing this, my first DREAM event out of Austin, listening to the stories of students like me, I had an epiphany: I can no longer continue to passively support the fight of undocumented students.  I’m sure that many people experience this epiphany one way or another, this very coming out event was a reflection of a central “epiphany”: the realization that, yes I am undocumented, but I am no longer afraid to admit it in public.

As Julieta drove me and a couple of other UT students to A&M, she commented on how she didn’t understand how undocumented students would want to attend a school whose students were trying to keep them away.  Him, one of the other UT students in the car, asked her, “I don’t know, why would anyone want to be in a country whose people are trying to keep them away?”  And Julieta experienced an epiphany.

Being passive is not productive.  This event served different purposes for different people. For me, being surrounded by active, committed students, it became clearer that it is necessary to support the cause, but most importantly, join the movement.  The students that publicly announced their undocumented status at A&M demonstrated that they are not afraid, and that they are not going to be intimidated into staying in the shadows any longer, an inspiration to many other students in the same situation, and even to those that are not undocumented but that value education as much as dreamers do.

Maria Fernanda was one of the students that came out and spoke, saying how she remembers being a little girl, coming to the United States.  What struck me about her speech was that she said she remembers saying goodbye to her dogs as she left Mexico eight years ago, and that a year ago, one of her dogs died, making her realize how long she has been away from Mexico.  I too, sometimes forget how long I have been away from Mexico, how long I have been waiting for something to change.  I figured it is time to start doing something while I’m waiting.  Adrian came out, speaking about how he has been waiting for sixteen years to become documented.  Indeed, none of the undocumented students could have imagine that they would go on for eight, ten, thirteen, sixteen years without the rights that other American students have.  Jose Luis also came out, telling a story that touched many of us, making it clear that undocumented students are human beings, for those who sometimes forget.

After the students had publicly admitted their immigration status, after they had shared their stories, a small group of students glared and held up anti-immigration signs.  One of the students from the opposition group questioned us about how why we didn’t go to immigration and ask for a path towards becoming legalized.  I do not understand how they could ask that, especially after they had just heard Adrian speak of how he did indeed go to immigration sixteen years ago, and how he is still waiting.  As Adrian said, “there’s no such person that would plan twenty years in advance where they are going to live.”

The continual struggle of undocumented students has not disappeared, and neither has the hope that those students represent.  This is not the time to be quiet; it is not the time to be passive, and no matter what stage you’re in as a dreamer, whether beginning to realize that it is time to become involved, time to become a leader, or time to come out in public, the central message is, despite all, unity.   And yes, the event obviously did not change the minds of those with opposing views, but it did something more: it liberated students that were able to declare that they are undocumented and unafraid while empowering others to also, be neither ashamed, nor afraid.

Reigniting the Flame Within Me by Daniel Olvera

19 Apr

2 weekends ago I attended the D6 Mid-South Retreat at Tulsa, Oklahoma, my first UWD event in my 4 years as an Undocumented youth activist and dreamer. Before the retreat, I had mostly worked with UWD through my organization in a distant way. This past December, I had the opportunity to work with them in a more direct manner throughout the DREAM Act vote in the past lame duck session. Overall, my experience with UWD has been through its leadership and so I was very excited to get to meet the rest of the UWD organizations outside of Texas. Given my recent disillusionment with the failure of the DREAM Act vote in December, I went into the retreat with the expectation of falling in love with the movement once again. I hoped to be inspired to take what I learned home with me so that I could implement it in my work. My purpose of attending was to build a bond with the rank-in-file dreamers, undocumented or not, of UWD, the dreamers who actually go out and make change, the dreamers whose hopes and dreams are the ones the movement is fighting for, the dreamers with whom I will fight shoulder to shoulder till the end. Happily, my expectations were surpassed beyond any limits.

Meeting so many dreamers brought together by social justice and sharing together our given knowledge, stories, aspirations, and goals for the movement was an event in my life that will live with me till I depart from this world. I cannot put into words how much this weekend has inspired me to keep working on this movement, to keep being active and a part of our national network. The retreat reactivated my drive that I believed had been drained by the loss of the DREAM Act and the subsequent anti-immigrant national fervor that followed, it help me believe again in the network because I came to understand that the network and the movement gets its power and dedication from the membership. The membership is not ready to give up, the membership is willing to take this fight to a whole other level, and above all, the membership is not divided and we are willing to fight as one for this cause and to be the change that is needed in this country.
Thank you to UWD for inviting me to meet the real you, a movement that is truly a grassroots movement, or as I like to refer to it, a truly Democratic movement. Thank you to everybody who willingly shared what they knew with us and by doing so formed better leaders and a more unified network. Thank you to everybody who attended the retreat for reigniting the flame within me, the desire to keep this movement going and strong because we are not doing this for ourselves, but we are doing it for others and those that come after us. The struggle to come will be hard and our wills will be tested for sure, but we are Dreamers, and as such we will persevere and bring about the change that we want in our country and our states. Overall Tulsa taught me to trust my dreamers and the movement once again.

Action Alert! Immigration Bills that will Damage Texas Public Safety

2 Mar

Oppose HB 12, HB 18, HB 183, HB 623* and HB 875.  These bills:

 

·    Creates mistrust and hurts relationships between local police and neighborhoods, undermining public safety and community cooperation.

·    Creates unfunded mandates on police and sheriffs departments and diverts  their personnel away from public safety enforcement.

·    Will add to the Texas jail-overcrowding crisis in urban counties, imposing needless new expenses on county jails and taxpayers.

·    Takes local control away from trusted law enforcement leaders who know their communities needs best and would rather concentrate on public safety.

 

*HB 623 – We oppose HB 623 because these changes would hurt the Texas economy, by preventing many qualified Texas students from going to college, and prohibiting many qualified Texans from contributing their training and skills to our economy.  HB 623 would also undermine public safety by discouraging many law-abiding crime victims and witnesses from helping the police and by diverting limited police resources away from public safety enforcement and into enforcement of federal immigration laws.

 

*Support HB 603.

This bill helps police solve & prevent crimes, keeping Texans safe

 

Please call, email and fax the Members of House Committee on State Affairs and voice your opposition to HB 12, HB 18, HB 183, HB 623 and HB 87

 

Chair Rep. Byron Cook

Phone 512-463-0730, Fax 512-463-2506,

Byron.Cook@house.state.tx.us

 

Vice-Chair Rep. Jose Menendez

Phone 512-463-0634, Fax 512-463-7668,

Jose.Menedez@house.state.tx.us

 

Rep. Tom Craddick

Phone 512-463-0500, Fax 512-463-7722,

Tom.Craddick@house.state.tx.us

 

Rep. John Frullo

Phone 512-463-0676, Fax 512-463-463-0072,

John.Frullo@house.state.tx.us

 

Rep. Pete Gallego

Phone 512-463-0566, Fax 512-463-1153, Pete

Gallego@house.state.tx.us

 

Rep. Charlie Geren

Phone 512-463-0610, Fax 512-463-8310, Charlie.

Geren@house.state.tx.us

 

Rep. Patricia Harless

Phone 512-463-0496, Fax 512-463-1507,

Patricia.Harless@house.state.tx.us

 

Rep. Harvey Hilderbran

Phone 512-463-0536, Fax 512-463-1449,

Harvey.Hilderbran@house.state.tx.us

 

Rep. Dan Huberty

Phone 512-463-0520, Fax 512-463-1606,

Dan.Huberty@house.state.tx.us

 

Rep. Rene Oliveira

Phone 512-463-0640, Fax 512-463-1618,

Rene.Oliveira@house.state.tx.us

 

Rep. John Smithee

Phone 512-463-0702, Fax 512-463-7016,

John.Smithee@house.state.tx.us

 

Rep. Burt Solomons

Phone 512-463-0478, Fax 512-463-2089,

Burt.Solomons@house.state.tx.us

 

Rep. Sylvester Turner

Phone 512-463-0554, Fax 512-463-8380,

Sylvester.Turner@house.state.tx.us

2 Mar

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MEDIA ADVISORY

Dreamers to Testify at Texas State Capitol Against Anti-Immigrant Legislation

Who: More than 100 Texas immigrant youth

What: Testifying before the State Affairs Committee at the State Capitol
Where:
John H. Reagan Building
When:
Wednesday March 2nd 12 PM-3 PM


Why: The immigrant youth are under attack by this Texas legislature, who have filed numerous bills aimed at repealing in-state tuition for undocumented students. Anti-immigrant/anti-education legislation in Texas has reached the desk of the State Affairs committee and the legislation is poised to reach the House floor for a vote.

Immigrant youth from across the state (Austin, Houston, Dallas and San Antonio) have joined forces and are coming out to the capitol with the intentions of testifying at the committee hearing on the behalf of Texas’ youth by opposing the proposed law to repeal in-state tuition.

“We’re ready to defend our state’s future, and we’re willing to risk our status, go before the committee, and state that we’re undocumented if that’s what it takes to keep our education.” says an undocumented student from University of Texas at Austin. Him Ranjit, another undocumented student from UT Austin, also echoed this sentiment, “Every dollar invested in higher education yields a profit of more than 8 dollars to the state of Texas. Why would you want to take that away, especially at this time?”`

– Hide quoted text –


Media availability

For more information please contact ULI.UTAustin@gmail.com

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Texas Can Do Better Rally

23 Feb

By Rosa Alvarez

Austin, TX–Today, over 2000 people gathered at Waterloo Park in Austin to march to the Texas capitol. It was amazing to see very young DREAMers from KIPP Austin High School joining the crowd. They, too, organized a walkout to show their concern with the laws being introduced into the TX legislature this year. After a crowd gathered at the park, we marched through the streets of downtown Austin, where we easily covered and successfully closed about a mile of the street. The chants of the crowd echoed through the busy buildings, including Senator Hutchison’s federal building, as we watched people look out their buildings and walk out of their office to see what was happening. Our voices were being heard.

Once we arrived at the Capitol, we witnessed an amazing line up of speakers for a press conference. Two of our ULI members spoke about their concerns for the future of Texas. One of them was Monserat Bernal, a freshman at KIPP Austin High School. She spoke about how the passage of HB 22 would make undocumented students into second-class citizens and take their focus away from their studies. Schools and teachers are not and should not be law enforcement agencies. Instead, they should focus on educating all students regardless of immigration status. Another ULI member, Him Ranjit, spoke about the efforts of immigrant youth to fight anti-immigrant and anti-education bills. As undocumented youth, we are committed to holding our state representatives and senators accountable so that they pass legislation that benefit our education system and Texas as a whole.

It was inspiring to see the next generation of leaders showing their voice and their commitment. I know that we are in good hands and I am committed to working with my team to achieve our goals to better our state and our country.

Texas Can Do Better Rally

Media Advisory WALK OUT FOR A BETTER TEXAS

22 Feb

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MEDIA ADVISORY

WALK OUT FOR A BETTER TEXAS
Texas Students-Ask Lawmakers to Reassess Their Priorities

When: February 21st, 2011, 10:00AM

Where: University of Texas Campus, Littlefield Fountain

Who: Immigrant students and allies

Why: At a time when the state is facing a large budget gap, the 82nd Texas legislature is focused on passing unfunded mandates in the form of anti-immigrant, anti-education and anti-business bills that would place an undue burden on law enforcement, schools, and the economy. Texas immigrant youth oppose this legislative approach and know that Texas can do better.

Dozens of immigrant youth and allies will stage a walkout and meet at the Littlefield Fountain on the UT Austin campus before heading to the capitol to remind legislators that the economy should be their priority not divisive bills that hurt communities.

In Texas, the success of police departments is based on the trust and cooperation of all members of our community, independently of immigration status. “This legislation will have a significant impact at our school…if these bills are passed, our campus security would be jeopardized,” states Loren Campos, president of UT’s University Leadership Initiative (ULI) and fourth-year student in the School of Engineering.

Students know that the bills that affect their communities also affect the state at large. “Our lawmakers are pushing for legislation that is unacceptable for our community. These anti-education bills short-change all students in the end,” said Him Ranjit, a second year Biomedical engineering student.

Visuals: Immigrant youth and allies walking out of class, large banners with UT tower as the backdrop.

For additional information, contact:

University Leadership Initiative
uli.utaustin@gmail.com

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