Sunday, December 19, 2010

Local advocates saddened that Dream Act blocked

Vianey Hernandez was crushed.

The young advocate with Action NC's youth group, Dare To Dream, was among the many supporters of the Dream Act hurt yesterday when Senate Republicans blocked an effort that would have given hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants a path to legal residency if they enrolled in college or joined the military.

“It breaks my heart, that my best friend and my little sister are being denied a future. We were all brought here when we were little and this is all we know.”

Jose Canales said “this makes me mad; just because I’m a U.S. citizen I can go to college and friends I’ve known my whole life can’t.

Hector Vaca, a community organizer with Action NC, said the hopes and dreams of millions of youth around the country were crushed as the United States Senate voted 55 to 41 to limit debate and bring the Dream Act to a vote.

"These are not the actions of public servants who claim to represent the will and interests of the American people."

He and other North Carolina advocates were particularly disappointed that Kay Hagan, a Greensboro Democrat, voted against the act. She was among five Democrats who joined 36 Republicans in blocking it.

Canales however said this will not discourage him.

"I will work harder to make their American dream come true too. 2011 is the year we make those old politicians in Washington care about us young people.”

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Could Dream Act actually pass this time?

Charlotte supporters are cautiously ecstatic that the House passed the bill.

The fate of the
Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act now rests with the Senate. Supporters and Opponents are on edge.

The Dream Act has been on the Congressional table since 2003. The last time the Senate voted on the Dream Act was in September when it failed to get the necessary 60 votes to overcome a Republican filibuster.

That vote was 52 to 44. The vote this morning is likely to be as close.

The House surprised many by passing the measure. Some 38 Democrats joined Republicans voting against the measure, but eight Republicans voted for the measure.

William Gheen, president of ALIPAC, called those Republicans “turncoats.”

“The he chances amnesty will pass the senate in the morning and become law are very high,” he said in an email to members. “To many Americans are relaxed by these unfounded assurances.”

Supporters of the Dream Act meanwhile are cautiously ecstatic.

Locally, students have been rallying around the Dream Act, telling their stories and organizing their peers to make calls to their representatives. Students have sent over 100 letters to Senator Kay Hagan, a Greensboro Democrat, alone urging her to support of Dream Act, according to the Latin American Coalition.

Votes by Democrats like Hagan will be key in this vote.

Hagan told the Observer in September that she felt the Dream Act should be considered in the context of comprehensive immigration reform, not as a stand-alone bill."

Lacey Williams, the Youth Civic Engagement and Advocacy Organizer at the Latin American Coalition, said the vote was encouraging.

“The fate of thousands of young students' futures is on the line tomorrow. All eyes are now on the Senate.”

UPDATE 11 a.m.: The Senate voted 59 -40 to postpone a decision on the Dream Act. A new vote is expected week.

Photo: C.M. GUERRERO, EL NUEVO HERALD -- Undocumented students march in downtown Miami in support of the DREAM Act.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Puerto Ricans celebrate holiday

The Puerto Rican Cultural Society of Charlotte is hosting its 3rd Gala Parranda Navideña. It's a Christmas Party. n Friday, Dec. 10, at the South Charlotte Banquet Center in Ballantyne.

The 7:30 p.m. to midnight event will include authentic food, music and dancing. L
ive music with Orquesta Mayor and Los Coquies de Charlotte. Proceeds will fund the new 2011 PRCSC Scholarship Program. Tickets are $50.00 per person for non-prcsc members and $45 for members. They can be purchased online at For more information, visit the website or call (980) 230-5759.

"Join us for a great evening of authentic PR food, music and dancing," said Maggie Giraud
President of the Puerto Rican Cultural Society

Friday, December 3, 2010

What will Charlotte look like in 2020?

A group of Hispanic entrepreneurs are seeking to find out.

The National Hispanic Entrepreneurs’ Organization has invited Mayor Anthony Foxx, AT&T NC president Cynthia Marshall, and Bob Morgan, president of the Charlotte Chamber, among others, to meet at Discovery Place Tuesday evening to discuss Charlotte’s future over the next decade.

Some 200 people are expected to attend the 6:30 p.m. event. The panelist will discuss increasing and retaining jobs, education, energy sources, and building a stronger community.

Juan Pablo Giometti, president of the NHEO, said that he hopes to capture the spirit around the schools documentary "Waiting for Superman" and encourage people to take a greater role in improving their community.

"The core of the program is about the demographics change, and how minorities should get prepared to succeed in the knowledge economy," he said.

Confirmed speakers include:

Anthony Foxx, Mayor, City of Charlotte (Sustainable Charlotte. Smart Grid)

Cynthia Marshall, President, AT&T NC (JET Agenda: Jobs, Education, Technology)

Bob Morgan, President, Charlotte Chamber (Charlanta, Powerhouse Mega-Region)

Miguel Galarza, President and CEO, Yerba Buena Construction Engineering (Giving Back)

Juan Pablo Giometti, President and CEO, NHEO (Accelerating Social Impact)

Richard Purcell, Community Development, NHEO (Building a Global Community)

Julius Hollis. Chairman and CEO, Alliance for Digital Equality (Bridging the Digital Divide)

Robert Corbin, PhD, VP of Learning Experiences, Discovery Place (STEM Education)

Franco Londono, NHEO Entrepreneur, Singer and Songwriter (Living with Purpose)

Juliana Luna, NHEO Entrepreneur, Luna's Living Kitchen (Future Food)

For more information, visit or call (704) 909-7945.

Q&A: An undocumented student's journey to get a degree

Four years ago, Sem Moreno was one of the first Charlotte students to openly discuss his immigrant status when explaining how difficult it was for undocumented students like him to further their education.

The Concord High graduate was able to continue his education with the help of supporters, but he says thousands can’t and won’t unless Congress passes bills like the Dream Act. As Congress continues to debate the bill that would give young illegal immigrants a chance at residency status if they attend college, we caught up with Moreno, now 24, to talk about his long battle to continue his education.

You wrote a book in 2004 called "Do Not Leave Us Behind" about the perspectives from 15 Hispanic students like yourself who have grown up in the U.S., but have limited opportunities because of their immigration status. You even sent a copy to President Bush. The situation today is pretty much the same. Still no Dream Act. Do you feel you were left behind?
In terms of the legislative bill proposal, Dream Act, things seem to be about the same and stuck in congress. No, I do not feel left behind. Personally, I feel I defied time and fate by fulfilling my purpose and ambitions.
How were you able to continue your college education without legal residency?
I was fortunate to receive financial assistance from non-profit organizations and from Queens University of Charlotte, a private institution, from which I obtained my degree.
You were one of the first students to come out about your residency status and advocate for yourself. You knew the risks. You could have been deported? Why take the chance?
The media has given us, immigrants, a deteriorating name and portrays our image as negative or as that of a criminal. Because we rarely hear about the contributions and accomplishments of the Latino community I decided to share my story hoping for you to see the other face of America, immigrants, from a different perspective.
Today, more students are following your lead. Should they be more concerned about the possibility that they could be deported?
No. I believe students should be more concerned about becoming skilled professionals than fearing deportation.
Why is it important for them to speak out?
It is imperative for these students to speak out because change will not happen unless they take the lead. Legislators must know 65,000 undocumented students graduate from high schools across America each year who are unable to attend higher education.
Are you continuing to do advocacy work?
Lately, I have been playing the role of a spectator as supposed to that of a gladiator. Last year I started exploring opportunities to further my education in a different country.
How do you feel that the Dream Act has yet to be enacted?
A whole generation of bright individuals is being placed in limbo. And I am disappointed that congress has not been able to pass this bill since 2001.
The Dream Act is currently being discussed in Congress. Do you think it has a chance of passing before the end of the lame duck session after which new legislators take over?
I think the Dream Act has the same possibilities of passing now as it did 9 years ago.
What's next for you?
Canada is next for me. I have been accepted in a M.Sc. program in immunology (research) at the University of Manitoba. I will be living in Winnipeg. After completing my graduate program I would like to continue doing research and to teach at the college level.
Would you like to return to the Charlotte?
Charlotte is like home to me. It would be great to visit the many people who supported and believed in me throughout my 10 year journey in the U.S.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Students gather tonight for Dream Act Vigil

Students plan to meet outside U.S. Senator Kay Hagan’s Charlotte office this afternoon at 5 p.m. in hopes of urging her to support the Dream Act.

The Dream Act is up for debate as Congress attempts to push through several initiatives during the lame duck session before new legislators arrive next year. The Dream Act would give thousands of young illegal immigrants who have attended U.S. high schools a chance to gain legal residency if they attend college or serve in the military.

Hagan told the Observer in September that she felt the Dream Act should be considered in the context of comprehensive immigration reform, not as a stand-alone bill."

Advocates say as many as 65,000 undocumented students graduate from high school with no options to further their education. The Dream Act has received some bipartisan support. There is more sympathy for the kids who supporters say shouldn't be punished for the errors of their parents.

But opposition is strong. Those against the Act argue passing it will only add more incentives to illegal immigrants to come here and create unfair competition with U.S. citizens and residents for college seats.

“In less than a decade, this reality could easily double or triple the more than 2.1 million green cards that will be immediately distributed as a result of the dream act,” U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions wrote in his report, “Ten Things You Need To Know About S.3827, Dream Act.”

The vigil:

What : Candlelight Vigil for Broken Dreams
When: December 2, 2010 at 5:00 pm
Where: Outside Senator Hagan’s Charlotte office.
Who: United 4 the DREAM and NC Equals
Contact: Elver Barrios, United 4 the DREAM, 704-726-3346; Lacey Williams, NC Equals, 904-571-7800