HomeTRP NewsUS Senator Durbin and US Congressman Gutiérrez visit TRP and La Casa to speak to undocumented youth regarding August 15 Dream Relief Day

US Senator Durbin and US Congressman Gutiérrez visit TRP and La Casa to speak to undocumented youth regarding August 15 Dream Relief Day

By Ulises Silva
Published: August 8, 2012
On Tuesday, August 7, 2012, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Representative Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL 4th District) came to The Resurrection Project (TRP) to hold a press conference to urge undocumented youth to attend the August 15 DREAM Relief Day Workshop organized by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) at Chicago’s Navy Pier. They also cautioned undocumented youth and their families from engaging unscrupulous attorneys and notary public officials seeking to exploit them. They were joined by two undocumented Latino youth whose stories served to inform and inspire the nearly 60 undocumented youth in attendance who would benefit directly from the DREAM Relief Day Workshop. The press conference was covered by WBEZ, Univision, WGN, KBC, and Telemundo.
Durbin, who proposed the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act in 2001, stressed that the DREAM Act is vital in giving undocumented youth the chance to contribute to American society. “These are young people,” he said, “who got up every day in their classroom, put their hands over their heart, and pledged allegiance to the only flag they’ve ever known.”
While the “deferred action” policy is not a passage of the DREAM Act, the policy will allow undocumented youth to apply for work permits if they meet several criteria. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services will begin accepting applications on August 15, 2012.
Both Durbin and Gutiérrez warned that scams are already targeting undocumented youth—in some instances charging youth almost $2,000 to complete an application process that only costs $465.
“Don’t let them exploit you,” Durbin said, asking the media in attendance to share this important information as well.
Gutiérrez introduced Geraldo, a DREAMer who was being charged $1,750 by two attorneys to complete the necessary paperwork.
“There is no way any of you need to pay $1,750 to fill out these forms,” said Gutiérrez. “Help is coming.”
Help is available through events like ICIRR’s DREAM Relief Day Workshop at Navy Pier, where volunteer lawyers will be on hand to help undocumented youth complete their applications. Lawrence Benito, CEO of ICIRR, explained that more than 500 volunteers will be available to help DREAMers put together their required paperwork and complete their applications. Benito asked attendees to visit www.dreamrelief.org to get more information.
“It’s going to be a wonderful day,” said Gutiérrez. “This is the most significant step we’ve taken towards immigration reform and toward justice for our immigrant community.”
The importance of the deferred action policy and August 15 was highlighted by Joselin, a DREAMer whose video entry earned her a one-year scholarship to live at La Casa.
“It was my dream to live the full college experience,” she said. “To live in the dorms and interact with all my peers and become very involved. But because I was undocumented, I wasn’t eligible for federal and financial aid.”
Joselin will apply for deferred action on August 15 and will have a chance to complete her studies without fear. But with her mother at her side, she explained that there is still much work to be done. “We still have to fight for the DREAM Act,” she said, “and for our parents.”
Raul Raymundo, CEO of TRP, reiterated the importance of the DREAM Act. “Immigration reform,” he said, “is not a Democratic or a Republican issue. It’s galvanized organizations across the nation because it’s not just about social justice but about economic prosperity for the country.” Raymundo hopes that La Casa will be instrumental in helping DREAMers pursue their education and contribute to the nation’s future. “This building,” he said, “is where the dreams of DREAMers can come true.”
DREAMers and La Casa students led Senator Durbin and Representative Gutiérrez on a special tour of La Casa—the world’s first community-based college dormitory that empowers students least likely to graduate from college to stay in school and successfully earn their bachelor’s degree.
Joselin is one of many local students who will make La Casa their home for the upcoming school year, and TRP was honored to host Senator Durbin, Representative Gutiérrez, Mr. Benito, Geraldo, and Joselin at La Casa for this important press conference. La Casa opens on August 15, 2012.
To view more photos from the event, please visit TRP’s Facebook page.