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Youth In DC: Don’t Forget Immigrant Children

By May 22, 2006No Comments

For Immediate Release                        Contacts:   Eun Sook Lee, NAKASEC, 323-937-3703
May 23, 2006                                Yu Soung Mun, YKASEC, 718-460-5600
                                         Becky Belcore, KRCC, 773-506-9158
                                           Dae Joong Yoon, KRC, 323-937-3718

Youth in DC to Remind Elected Officials:
Don’t Forget Immigrant Children

[Los Angeles] In an effort to keep the hopes and dreams of immigrant students alive, more than 60 youth and their supporters from 17 states will participate in a National Lobby Day in Washington, DC to build support for the “American DREAM Act” (H.R. 5131) on May 24, 2006. Two Korean American youth leaders from NAKASEC and its affiliates will meet with their Representatives to urge them to sponsor and demonstrate leadership to enact this urgently needed bill.

The “American DREAM Act,” introduced in the House on April 6, 2006, would provide undocumented students a chance to pursue higher education and obtain legal status, while allowing states to determine their own rules of residency for in-state tuition eligibility.  

Connie Yoon, a youth leader from Chicago, IL would benefit from the “American DREAM Act.”  Connie is a gifted artist who graduated with a 4.0 GPA from high school and is currently studying at one of top art institutions in the nation. Without access to financial aid or loans, her sister, only 24 years-old, works 12 hours a day as a waitress and her parents also work long hours at a dry cleaners to earn enough to pay for Connie’s costly tuition.  Connie, herself, has also held two or three jobs at a time, in addition to keeping up her studies and volunteering in the community.  

Connie represents one of 65,000 students every year who graduate from US high school who would benefit under this legislation.  She believes that, “The DREAM Act will open up the future for numerous young students who have been a part of this country since a young age; we believe this is the country for us to live.  We have been educated here.  If we are not considered American, then who is?”

Kevin Kang, another youth leader from Fresh Meadow, NY will be in D.C. to also support hardworking immigrant students: “Many of my friends would benefit from the “American DREAM Act.” As I hear stories of how they came to America, I would usually learn about how they came here at a young age with their parents. They grew up here and became American in every aspect. I don’t see why they can’t get the same opportunities that I have just because they don’t have a single piece of paper.  They deserve this bill; it’s only fair that they do.”

Currently H.R. 5131’s companion legislation, the “DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act” is attached to the immigration bill under discussion in the Senate. Eun Sook Lee, executive director of the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium commented, “In this highly politicized debate on immigration, we sometimes forget the impact these laws will have on the young people in this country and on their families. On May 24, young people will be brought to the forefront of the discussion to clearly state they must not be left behind during this critical moment in the United States.”

In addition to the Lobby Day, participants will join a youth-led press event in the Upper Senate Park at 2 PM to press Congress to pass immigration reform bill that keeps families together.  The event will highlight the stories of young people who are separated from their families under current unfair and unjust immigration laws. Andrew Jung, a 15-year old US citizen from Ohio whose loving and hardworking parents were deported to Korea almost a year ago, will be a featured speaker.  These young people will come together to ask members of Congress to “Keep Our Families Together,” and to remind them that communities will hold them accountable when they reach the ballot box.