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  • Oct 10, 2012: On the Road to the American Dream
    Oct 10, 2012: Thirteen years is a very long time.  Thirteen years is a little over half my life.  Thirteen years is how long I have called America my home.  And it has taken that long for me to finally feel a certain weight off my shoulders.  Being a DREAMer has been a long road.  Not only have the simplest things in life proven to be an  obstacle but also discouraging because knowing that my life was in the hands of strangers on Capitol Hill was a hard pill to swallow. Albeit, it has been difficult to be barred from holding a driver’s license, traveling abroad, or receiving...
  • Sep 21, 2012: Citizenship: It Changes Your Life
    Sep 21, 2012: With Citizenship Day on September 17th, I would like to reflect on my experience working  with a national multi-organizational initiative to encourage the country's lawful permanent residents (LPR) to become U.S. citizens.  In every facet of society, immigrants are integral members in the economy and the political discourse.  With this in mind, CLINIC has pursued steps to reach the approximate 8 million LPRs who are eligible to become citizens. As part of this collaborative,  I was fortunate to have the opportunity to help with the planning and implementation of...
  • Sep 4, 2012: Reflecting on Prosecutorial Discretion: A Year Later
    Sep 4, 2012: Over a year ago, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that it would focus its resources on the highest priority cases. This effort to implement new enforcement standards through the exercise of prosecutorial discretion (PD) had me doing back flips as I read the guidance addressed to all ICE directors, chief counsel, and field officers. This memo and the statements that followed signaled a change in the enforcement practices and priorities of ICE – the same agency that conducted factory raids in 2007 that resulted in the detention and deportation of...
  • Aug 16, 2012: Opening Day for Deferred Action!
    Aug 16, 2012: Dateline Chicago, August 15, 2012, 7:30 a.m.  Rounding the curve to park at Navy Pier, my jaw dropped at the sight of a thousand or more young adults gathered on the lawn and sidewalks in front of the Pier, waiting for the 8 a.m. check-in time for the deferred action mega-workshop sponsored by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR).  I had volunteered to be a legal screener so I hurried to arrive at my assigned post before 8:00.    Once inside the building, I headed to the grand ballroom – the primary site for application support services,...
  • Jul 31, 2012: Advocates React to Arizona's "Papers, Please" Mandate
    Jul 31, 2012: The Supreme Court came so close to blocking Arizona’s “papers, please” mandate in June and its failure to do so has serious consequences for immigrant advocates and the communities they serve.  In addition to claiming that  the Court could not really tell what the mandate meant, it also drew a distinction between arresting or detaining someone for possible unlawful presence (which states cannot do on their own) and simply “communicating” with the federal government about someone’s immigration status (which states can do).  In practice, this is a false distinction. ...
  • Jul 17, 2012: Advocate Inspired by a DREAM
    Jul 17, 2012: In the month since the President announced the policy to grant Deferred Action to DREAMers, I’ve had the opportunity to meet and work with many extraordinary and inspiring young people.  From the young woman whose family got legal “help” from someone who only filed papers for the parents but not their children, to the Ivy Leaguer who, when he learned he was undocumented, began reading the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to search for answers, every one of the young high school students and graduates that I have met has expressed the same feeling – hope.  They...
  • Jun 29, 2012: Red, White, and Blue: What Does it Mean to be an American Citizen?
    Jun 29, 2012: The fourth of July. It’s a date that resonates with many of us– young, old, male, female, citizens and immigrants.  It’s a time when  families and communities come together, cook burgers on the grill,  and watch the night sky boom with fireworks as people from across the nation commemorate America’s Independence Day. The fourth of July arguably generates the biggest displays of patriotism, pride, and nationalism within the US.  There is something magical about Independence Day; for one day, despite the politics or beliefs that divide us, Americans come together to...
  • Jun 20, 2012: World Refugee Day: Celebrating Freedom, Recognizing the Persecuted
    Jun 20, 2012: World Refugee Day, June 20, has arrived without much fanfare or preparation.  It isn’t holiday; rather, it is a day to recognize the plight of people who are forced from their homes and country due to a fear of persecution or death.  Refugees are like you and me until they are confronted with the terrifying choice to flee and live or stay and be persecuted, or worse, killed.  The New Testament urges us to welcome the stranger – someone not of our midst who is forced to travel in front of us.  Jesus, Mary and Joseph were refugees as they fled Herod’s wrath and went...

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