FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Marcela Díaz, Somos Un Pueblo Unido
to pass the DREAM Act
At public forum, students, advocates, and Taos School Board members support passage of legislation
Taos, New Mexico—On Thursday, dozens of students and education advocates spoke at a public forum about the barriers immigrant youth face in pursuing a college education and urged New Mexico’s Senators to vote for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM) of 2007. The DREAM Act is a federal bill that would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrant youth who were brought to the U.S. as young children and are going to college. It is expected to be reintroduced in the Senate mid-November by a bipartisan slate of co-sponsors including Senator Bingaman.
The student forum took place a day after the Taos Municipal School Board unanimously approved a resolution supporting passage of the DREAM Act. “We are responsible for the education of all young people in Taos,” stated Arsenio Córdova, the President of the Board. “We need an educated constituency and we want immigrant students to be able to pursue their careers in the United States. The DREAM Act would be something that would give them a future, something to look forward and enhance their education.”
At the forum, sponsored by UNM Taos and Somos Un Pueblo Unido, several local elected officials including Bobby Gonzales, New Mexico State Representative from Taos, Nick Trujillo, Taos County Commissioner, and Erlinda Gonzales, Town of Taos Councilor, joined representatives from New Mexico Senators’ offices in listening to the students testimonies.
Ilyana Villanueva, a Taos High School student said in her personal testimony, “I’ve lived in the United States since I was twelve years old. At first it was hard to learn English and adapt, but I did not give up because I dream for a better future. I want to be a criminologist and I’m studying hard to accomplish my goals. The DREAM Act would help me and many others come out of the shadows and spread our wings.”
Educators emphasized New Mexico’s commitment to increasing higher education attainment rates as a way of strengthening the caliber of the state’s workforce and promoting economic development.
In 2005, the state legislature passed a law allowing undocumented immigrant youth who have grown up in New Mexico to receive in-state tuition and state financial aid. This legislation enjoyed broad support by educators, university administrators, city officials and faith, business and union leaders. Many of those currently benefiting from the law cannot and will not be able to practice in their chosen fields because they are not authorized to legally work in the country.
“UNM–Taos is committed to serving all students in our community. Over the past two years, we have worked to develop Preparación Universitaria at Taos High School that prepares immigrant students for higher education after graduation,” said Juan Montes, Title 5 Program Manager at UNM Taos. “We totally support the DREAM Act because it helps students enter and complete college as well as legalize their status so that they may be able to work and contribute to the community. It is a win-win situation; students are able to reach their full potential and society gets educated professionals.”
The Taos Student Forum is one of a series of events throughout the state organized by Somos and other groups to support the DREAM Act. Last Tuesday, dozens of students and educators from Santa Fe and Albuquerque participated in a news conference and rally at the University of New Mexico. On October 17th, groups will hold a rally and march at NMSU in Las Cruces. As part of the campaign, students have posted their testimonials on MySpace, a social networking website often utilized by young people.
The DREAM Act is endorsed by dozens of statewide organizations in New Mexico including: Hispano Roundtable of New Mexico, Human Needs Coordinating Council, New Mexico Catholic Conferences of Bishops, Engaging Latinos for Higher Education (ENLACE), New Mexico Association for Bilingual Education, New Mexico Voices for Children, New Mexico Federation of Educational Employees/American Federation of Teachers, and Somos Un Pueblo Unido. In 2005, the Santa Fe City Council also passed a resolution in support of the DREAM Act.
Somos Un Pueblo Unido, 1205 Parkway Dr, Suite B, Sante Fe, NM 87507
telephone: 505-424-7832 fax: 505-438-8518 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Los derechos de los inmigrantes son derechos humanos.