Category: DREAM Act

Senator Durbin highlights the story of Friends of Justice intern, Pierre Berastain

By Alan Bean

Senator Dick Durbin wanted to dramatize the need for getting serious about the DREAM act,  so he used the story of Friends of Justice intern, Pierre Berastain to add some sizzle to his argument.  Pierre, a student at Harvard Divinity School, is a wonderful example of what immigrants, documented and otherwise, can give our nation.  Please check this out!

Do DREAM Kids Have a Right to an Education?

There has been a lot of press recently about the plight of illegal immigrants, though most of the coverage on Friends of Justice has centered on basic human rights and adult deportation rules. In the article below. Rachel Higgins looks at a dilemma all too common among younger generations of immigrants: access to education and college funding. Rachel writes about issues impacting college students for a site that examines 1,691 accredited online colleges and provides comparison information for those considering an online education.

Colleges and Legislators Continue to Debate the Right to Education

Rachel Higgins

As Democrats and Republicans continue to debate the conditions of a federal DREAM Act, many provincial programs have enabled children of undocumented citizens to receive financial aid, earn a college degree and enter the workforce as trained professionals, something the country so desperately needs.  In recent years, financial aid for illegal immigrants has been a hot-button topic among American lawmakers. Some have stated that a higher number of well-educated, first-generation Americans would be beneficial to the country, while others argue that individuals who have not become legal citizens have no right to education in the United States.

In June 2012, President Obama announced he was enacting a law that deferred deportation of immigrants who met certain requirements of American citizenship, even if their status in the country was currently illegal. In order to pass this step of the so-called “We Can’t Wait” initiative, the president circumvented Congress in order to spearhead the law. This ostensible “abuse of power” drew criticism from House Republicans, wrote NPR contributor Frank James.  “Americans should be outraged that President Obama is planning to usurp the Constitutional authority of the United States Congress and grant amnesty by edict to 1 million illegal aliens,” said Rep. Steve King [R-Iowa]. (more…)

“I will no longer have to hide”: Pierre Berastain in the Dallas Morning News

This story on Friends of Justice intern, Pierre Berastain, appeared on the front page of Saturday’s Dallas Morning News.  Pierre is a frequent contributor to this blog and also sends out our weekly updates.  AGB

Young illegal immigrant redefines his life in Carrollton and at Harvard


Staff Writer

Published: 21 September 2012

CARROLLTON — Pierre Berastain didn’t embrace the role of mediator when thousands of high school students walked out of classes in 2006 in Dallas and other cities to protest U.S. immigration policies.

He wanted a change in federal immigration policies as much as the protesters.

But his high school principal wanted him to calm students to prevent a walkout at R.L. Turner High School. So he got on the public address system and took several students aside in the hallways.

“Do we want to be recognized for negative behavior or for our accomplishments?” he asked his classmates.

In five years of occasional conversations with a reporter at The Dallas Morning News, Berastain anonymously spoke about his journey through college and his social justice crusades. He’s gone public with his story in recent weeks because of a new policy initiative by the Obama administration that halts deportation and grants temporary work permits to young immigrants. (more…)

Senator Rubio: What about my DREAM?


By Pierre Berastain
As I heard Marco Rubio’s speech at the Republican National Convention, I was shocked by his words of hypocrisy. I recently came out as an undocumented student in the United States, and for me–a fellow Hispanic–Marco Rubio’s words were insulting. Senator Rubio’s message portrays an America of inclusivity, where dreams are possible. We are a land of endless opportunity that cares not about the color of the skin, but about the tenacity of the spirit.

Senator Rubio, American is just that, which is why I am convinced your party–the Republican Party–is fundamentally anti-American. Your party claims endless opportunity for all. Where is my opportunity to participate in my community? Are two Harvard degrees and a promise of a life in public service not enough for you? What else must I do to prove myself to your party?

I would like to take a look at a few excerpts from Senator Rubio’s speech at the RNC: (more…)

What makes Jan Brewer so mean?

Jan Brewer became a darling of the anti-immigration right by wagging her finger in the president’s face

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and Joe “America’s toughest sheriff” Arpaio are accusing Barack Obama of granting illegal immigrants de facto amnesty.   The immigration problem could be settled amicably, Arpaio says, if all the illegal aliens went home, but since that is unlikely to happen, earnest public servants must do what they were elected to do.

Jan Brewer grabbed the big headlines by announcing that the Dream Act young people Obama saved from deportation won’t be getting any state services in Arizona–and that includes drivers’ licenses. (more…)

Why Obama changed course on immigration

Facing SouthBy Alan Bean

Kung Li’s latest article in Facing South underscores the foolishness of believing that comprehensive immigration reform would be realized as soon as Obama and the Democrats proved they were serious about securing the border.  

Getting tough simply created an appetite on the right for yet more bodies on the border, ever greater deportation stats, and an ever-expanding role for local law enforcement.  

No matter how far to the right Obama moved on the immigration issue, his conservative opponents had no choice but to raise the ante.

The only way to produce credible and comprehensive immigration reform is to humanize the problem.  Obama’s “we’re only deporting the worst of the worst” stance was wrongheaded and counterproductive from the drop.

First, we aren’t deporting the worst of the worst.  

The federal court system uses any past felony violation as a proxy for “dangerousness” whether or not the offense involved violence or the threat of violence.  Instead, federal officials are examining the immigration status of every person apprehended by local law enforcement for any reason.  The assumption is that undocumented residents who have a criminal record of any kind are a threat to public safety.  In most cases, the government has no good reason to believe the folks we are shipping back to Mexico are dangerous criminals.

The Obama administration was simply jacking up its deportation statistics in the unfounded hope that a show of toughness at the border would induce Republicans to embrace genuine immigration reform.  When ill-informed voters hear that 400,000 dangerous criminals have been deported, they view all undocumented persons with fear and suspicion.

Republicans will oppose any measure proposed by the Obama administration unless it has overwhelming bipartisan support.  The president extended an olive branch to the DREAM Act  community because he realized, finally, that his original tactic could do nothing but fail.

On immigration, cutting the ties between enforcement and legalization

Kung Li

Facing South

June 22, 2012

The cover of Time Magazine released on June 14 featured Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas and 35 other undocumented immigrants. The next day, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano issued a memorandum that will, when implemented, grant deferred status and possibly work authorization to between 800,000 and 1.4 million undocumented people who meet age, education, and criminal history criteria. President Obama stepped out later that afternoon into the Rose Garden to add some Presidential love — if not an executive order — to the policy. It was a significant shift for someone who had, a year earlier, insisted it would be inappropriate for him to do exactly what he is now doing. (more…)