For Immediate Release December 10, 2010
Contact: Jane Yoo, NAKASEC, firstname.lastname@example.org, 718-710-2277 Dae Joong Yoon, KRC, email@example.com, 213-434-4267 Sik Son, KRCC, firstname.lastname@example.org, 847-208-5426
Communities Boost Nationwide Movement for Final Passage of DREAM Act
Korean Americans and Asian Americans Heed Call-To-Action. Tenacious Immigrant Youth Organizing Culminates in a Senate Vote During the Lame Duck.
The immigrant youth organizing movement faced a historic vote on Wednesday, December 8, 2010, as the American DREAM Act (H.R. 6497) passed in the U.S. House of Representatives by a 216 to 198 margin. Please go to http://bit.ly/eA3O3N for the final tally of votes. It was the first time ever the bill faced a floor vote and passed successfully since it was first introduced in 2001.
Subsequently, on Thursday, December 9, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) filed a motion to table the cloture vote, giving up the chance to vote on the DREAM Act (S. 3992) and giving proponents of the bill more time to better position the legislation for passage. The Senate is expected to vote on the version of the DREAM Act that passed in the House in the next 2 weeks. 60 votes will be needed for the bill to become law.
The National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC) and its affiliates, the Korean American Resource & Cultural Center in Chicago and the Korean Resource Center in Los Angeles, have hit the ground running in engaging the Korean American and wider Asian American communities in target states to ensure victory for the DREAM Act.
“Korean Americans have long been invested in the DREAM Act and have played a fundamental role throughout the years to organize our community, and grow leaders and advocates,” stated EunSook Lee, executive director of NAKASEC. “We now see a groundswell of students truly in the forefront of mobilization efforts.”
One of those students is Angela Kim, a 22-year old student at UCLA majoring in Psychology and a student leader at the Korean Resource Center. A DREAM beneficiary, she hopes to become a social worker one day. “Asian American and Pacific Islander students comprise of around 40% of all AB540 students and yet there are few visible leaders from our communities. (AB540 is California’s in-state tuition bill for undocumented students.) At the Korean Resource Center we are inspired to act by fellow students we meet each day in our network.” Angela is also a UCLA IDEAS member and participated in phonebanking parties on her campus during the days leading up to the historic vote.
The Senate vote will need heightened coordination and push in key states including Illinois, Utah, Louisiana, Alaska, Ohio, Missouri, North Carolina, Florida, Maine, Indiana, and Texas.
“Chicago youth stepped up their effort to urge Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) to support the DREAM Act since the day he won his election bid on November 2. He must realize that immigrants make up 13.6% of the population in Illinois. Immigrants and their children comprise 26% of the population. We see a growth of immigrants to our great state by 35,300 people a year. That’s a significant number of people who are the people he represents,” said Sik Son, executive director of the Korean American Resource & Cultural Center. The youth that Mr. Son works with were recently part of a vigil that sought to shed light on the recent suicide of an undocumented immigrant student by sharing stories of hardships and address the mental well-being of youth. They were also part of the “Illinois Dreams Together” video message campaign that directly reached out to Senator Kirk. The videos can be found here: http://bit.ly/eiPRQJ
Even in Utah, which was one of the first wave of 9 states that offered in-state tuition for undocumented immigrant students and whose legislators, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and former Representative Chris Cannon (R-UT) were original sponsors of the DREAM Act and the Student Adjustment Act, proponents will have their work cut out. “DREAM Act beneficiaries under the original legislation have all reached an age where they no longer qualify. Yet the movement hasn’t died. It has only gotten stronger,” stated Reverend EunSang Lee of the 1st United Methodist Church in downtown Salt Lake City, who encouraged his congregation to participate in call-in actions. “Utah’s history is a history of immigration and in keeping with this tradition we hope that our Senators will do the right thing.”
Asian Americans in states like Georgia and Louisiana have also stepped up the game and joined the action. The Center for Pan Asian Community Services in Atlanta and the Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association of New Orleans mobilized their base of supporters for the DREAM Act through candlelight vigils, legislative visits and call-ins. Their efforts contributed to the successful vote in the House and will be a force in the race to garner strong support in the final countdown to the Senate vote.
“We are at a moment where finally immigrant youth will be given due credit and appreciation for their hard work and commitment. To the end we see turnouts like never before; calls, emails, petitions that generate responses in the tens of thousands. This is the kind of smart organizing that seeks to win and that’s what we are hoping. A win for students, a win for immigrants, a win for our communities,” stated Dae Joong Yoon, executive director of the Korean Resource Center.
NAKASEC will coordinate DREAM Act actions in California, Illinois, Louisiana, Alaska, and Ohio and seek to elevate the participation of Korean Americans and Asian Americans.
For pictures from our actions, please visit: http://bit.ly/eRLFKH
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 is based in Los Angeles and a D.C. office opened in September 2008. NAKASEC also has affiliates in Los Angeles (The Korean Resource Center) and in Chicago (The Korean American Resource & Cultural Center).