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Programs > Immigrant Rights Project > Student Legalization & Access to Education

Student Legalization & Access to Education

Issue Background
Since 2001, NAKASEC has been organizing and educating the community on legislation such as the DREAM Act – a pending bill in Congress which would provide opportunities for undocumented immigrant students to pursue higher education and obtain legal status. Additionally, NAKASEC has worked to protect access to education for undocumented Korean Americans who are denied admission to public schools (K-12 & college/university) and denied in-state tuition exemption.

Recent Campaigns
DREAM Graduation Ceremony, June 18, 2007
Organized by the United We DREAM Coalition in which NAKASEC is a steering committee member, immigrant students and their US-born peers from 14 states came together on Capitol Hill for the “Don’t Just DREAM, Act!” to say that their lives can’t be put on hold. Eight Korean American youth from NAKASEC and its affiliate youth groups joined with other students to urge Congress to pass the DREAM Act (S. 774 and HR 1275).

65 students participate in the graduation ceremony to represent the 65,000 talented students who graduate every year in need of the DREAM Act. Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) was present to hand out diplomas to these students. Also in attendance were Representatives John Sarbanes (D-MD), Illeana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), and bill champion Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) who gave inspirational words of hope to the students. Other speakers represented a broad range of support from other sectors including DREAM students, Reggie Weaver, President of the National Education Association and Maria Elena Durazo Executive Secretary / Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.

During the DC mobilization, the NAKASEC youth also met with Rep. Mark Kirk, Jan Schakowsky, Danny Davis, Dianne Feinstein, and Diane Watson. It was through the educational efforts of KRC, that Rep. Diane Watson, signed on the American DREAM Act for the first time in the history of the legislation.

National Day of Action for the “American DREAM Act”in DC (May 24, 2006)
Three Korean American youth leaders from Illinois, New York, and Ohio joined more than 75 other youth from across the country in Washington, DC. Included in the delegation was Connie Yoon, a talented art student who would benefit under the DREAM Act, Andrew Jung, a 15-year old citizen whose parents were deported almost a year ago, and Kevin Kang, a US-born young person who is concerned for his community. The group met with elected officials to discuss how the broken immigration system has had a devastating impact on themselves, their families and friends. The delegation also met with Senate Judiciary member Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH) directly to state the need for immigration reform that is just and humane. Youth also participated in a press event on the Capitol Lawn where Andrew was a featured speaker.

Coalitions
The United WE DREAM! Coalition is a national effort led by students, grassroots organizations, and educators, to work towards the passage of federal legislation that would remove barriers that prevent immigrant students from pursuing their academic and professional development. Of particular interest to the campaign is the enactment of federal legislation to legalize undocumented immigrant students.



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