Joint Statement about the National Day of Action for United We DREAM

For Immediate Release
June 23, 2009

Contacts:
Eunyoung Lee, KRCC, 773-588-9158
HyunJoo Lee, NAKASEC, 323-937-3703
Jung Hee Lee, KRC, 323-937-3718

Joint Statement about the National Day of Action for United We DREAM:
National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC)
Korean American Resource & Cultural Center (KRCC), Chicago
Korean Resource Center (KRC), Los Angeles

(Washington, D.C.) NAKASEC and its affiliates are proud to have joined hundreds of students and community members today in the nation’s Capitol to bring awareness to the national movement led by immigrant youths for equal access to higher education for all students, regardless of their immigration status. A bill that would help achieve this is the DREAM Act. The DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act is tailored legislation that would provide a path to legalization for eligible immigrant students who grew up in the United States. Youth came from all corners – Arizona, California, Florida, Massachusetts, Texas, etc. – to participate in the National Graduation Ceremony, followed by visits to legislators and policy makers.

Three students were awarded at the ceremony, among them Yosub Jung from the Korean Resource Center. Yosub is the recipient of the “Spirit Award” which recognized the leadership, courage and perseverance of a high school student leader. The award was presented by Maribel Solivan, associate director of policy for the College Board, an association of more than 5,400 schools, colleges, universities, and other educational organizations that each year serves seven million students and their parents through major programs and services.

Yosub is a high school graduate who has worked over the past year to educate and organize Korean American students in Southern California. He said, “To be here in the nation’s capital, surrounded by hundreds of fellow peers and community leaders, is like a dream come true. I am honored to have represented NAKASEC in this D.C. graduation ceremony. Young Korean Americans have worked tirelessly over the years for policies that would enable all students to reach their fullest potential, and while the journey is at times challenging, I feel a renewed energy from this day. United, we can dream and we will create a new day for young people in America.”

“America prides itself as being the “land of opportunity.” Yet we close that door of opportunity to some of the brightest and most talented students because of their immigration status. That is why we are here today, to say enough is enough and to work towards policies that will truly make our nation one of fair and equal opportunity,” said HyunJoo Lee, national organizing coordinator of NAKASEC.

“The current broken immigration system creates a lose-lose situation for all; this is not an individual loss but a loss to the whole country because we are rejecting the talents, passions and dreams of capable young people. We must work towards creating a country where we can fulfill the greatness of young people and America,” said Eunyoung Lee, youth organizer for KRCC.

The graduation ceremony was attended by over 400 students representing over 15 states, dressed in caps and gowns. Remarks were also made by Bill Kamela, Senior Director for Education and Workplace Policy of Microsoft, Josh Bernstein, Director of Immigration at SEIU, and Rich Stolz, Campaign Manager for the Campaign to Reform Immigration FOR America.

Media Interviews
Upon request, interviews are available with Korean American community members in Chicago and Los Angeles who will directly benefit from passage of the DREAM Act or who work with impacted students. To schedule a media interview, please contact L. Sookyung Oh at 202.567.1369.

Full Text of Yosub Jung’s Speech:

Thank you for the award. Today is one of the most meaningful days in my life. Thank you College Board for this award and for supporting the DREAM Act. Thank you NAKASEC and KRC for bringing me this far. Without you there wouldn’t have been today’s Yosub. Thank you all for coming here to show your support for me and other 1.7 million DREAM students. I will take this award as a reminder to work myself harder for my goals.

Today is truly a moment of a lifetime. And deeply humbling. I feel that I have only been doing what I need to do to make our dreams come true. We act out of necessity. And like all of you, I am driven by the hope that the DREAM Act will pass so that all students can pursue their dreams. If there is anything different about me from the past is that it is an awareness of how much this country needs policies that respect and give equal opportunity to all.

I know there are fears; I have them as well. I know there are dangers; I too hear the stories. But we must never give up, not for ourselves or for the millions of students out there. And let us never feel ashamed. You cannot hide what you are and it’s not something you can solve alone anyway.

I know all of you were paying attention to what President Obama was saying during the election campaign. Did you hear his support for the DREAM Act? Do you realize that the political atmosphere – all the talks of the Complete Immigration Reform and introduction of the DREAM Act – is perfect to achieve our goal? Look at who’s here today. Educators and corporations are supporting us. Look at who is on your side: there are thousands and thousands of advocates and supporters who have been working for us for a decade. But what is the point of all this if we don’t show our presence and energy?

I put all of my spirit and energy for this because I know how important this is to my community. I am, by no way, a superman or anything of that kind. I am like you who have been waiting quietly till somebody stood up. But I got tired of waiting. I just realized dying in a battlefield for possibilities of life and freedom is more worthwhile than living in fear of bombs in a closet. Besides, we are not alone as you can see today. So let’s not give up. Let’s imagine a day when people will look at us and say, “Dreams really come true.” Thank you!

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The National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC) was founded in 1994 by local community centers to project a national progressive voice and promote the full participation of Korean Americans as a part of a greater goal of building a national movement for social change. NAKASEC maintains its national office in Los Angeles and an office in Washington, D.C. NAKASEC also has affiliates in Los Angeles (The Korean Resource Center) and Chicago (The Korean American Resource & Cultural Center). Related to immigrant student access to education, NAKASEC is a member of the United We DREAM coalition.

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