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Press Statement: Citizenship in Action – Korean Americans Urge Legislators to Support DREAM Act

By April 23, 2009 No Comments

For immediate release
April 23, 2009

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

Citizenship in Action: Korean Americans Urge Legislators to
Support DREAM Act

(Los Angeles, CA)  Since the beginning of 2009, Korean American youths and community members in Chicago (members of the Korean American Resource & Cultural Center – KRCC) and Los Angeles (members of the Korean Resource Center – KRC) have been leading the national campaign to pass the DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act, tailored legislation that would provide a path to legalization for eligible immigrant students who grew up in the United States. As part of their efforts, they have been meeting with key legislators to urge their support for DREAM Act in their local districts as well as in Washington D.C.

“At these legislative visits, students and community members are not only experiencing first-hand what citizenship in action feels like, they are sharing their own personal stories and the deep impact DREAM Act will have on their lives and the lives of their family and friends. By humanizing the issue, our Members of Congress are seeing how invested our community is in making DREAM Act a reality this year. Their response has been very positive and we will continue to work together towards policy change,” said HyunJoo Lee, national organizing coordinator of NAKASEC.

C.K. Kim, a member of KRCC’s youth group FYSH (Fighting Youth Shouting Out for Humanity), joined community members and allies to a visit with Rep. Jan Schakowsky on April 16, 2009, “I was fairly nervous but I knew this was important because if we do not express our concerns with our elected officials, then we cannot make real change. I have friends who are undocumented and I know that if DREAM Act passes, it would mean that they can study and reach their dreams. So that it is why I went and explained to Rep. Schakowsky why DREAM Act was important. I feel like I made a real difference because after our visit, Rep. Schakowsky signed on as a co-sponsor of DREAM Act!”

Jung Jin Kim and his mother joined KRC and others on a legislative visit with Rep. Jane Harman on April 14, 2009. It was their first legislative visit. “I want to help create a society that embraces all immigrants and their contributions to society. That is why I gladly went to visit my Representative to share stories of my friends, and the fact that 1 out of 5 Korean Americans are undocumented, many who are under the age of 18. As a citizen, I think it is important that we all take responsibility to speak up. I am proud to say that since our meeting with her staff, Rep. Jane Harman has indeed signed on as a co-sponsor of DREAM Act!” shared Jung Jin.

As of April 23, 2009, 20 visits have been made with staff members for the following Representatives and Senators:

Rep. Neil Abercombie (HI), Rep. Melissa Bean (IL), Rep. Xavier Becerra (CA), Rep. Howard Berman (CA), Sen. Barbara Boxer (CA), Rep. Richard Burris (IL), Rep. Joseph Cao (LA), Rep. Susan Davis (CA), Rep. David Dreier (CA), Sen. Richard Durbin (IL), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (CA), Rep. Jane Harman (CA), Rep. Mark Kirk (IL), Rep. Betsy Markey (CO), Rep. Devin Nunes (CA), Rep. Tom Perriello (VA), Rep. Mike Quigley (IL), Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL) and Rep. Diane Watson (CA).

Of these visits, the following Members of Congress who were not original co-sponsors promised they will co-sponsor DREAM Act: Rep. Susan Davis (CA), Rep. Jane Harman (CA), Rep. Mike Quigley (IL), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL) and Rep. Diane Watson (CA).

“The tenacity of young people has been at the heart of our long-term effort to pass DREAM Act. Despite a long journey, they are still optimistic and believe that change is possible. The DREAM Act is a vision in which every child and student has the equal opportunity to study and build a better future for themselves and their families and we are committed to making this vision a reality,” said Eunyoung Lee, youth coordinator of KRCC.

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 HyunJoo Lee at 323-937-3703/ hlee@nakasec.org.

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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.