‘You May Say That We are DREAMers…’

Maryland Dream Act

‘You may say that we are DREAMers…’ But, as the vote on Question 4 of the Maryland ballot demonstrated, we are definitely not the only ones! You helped successfully defend the Maryland DREAM Act last night as Marylanders voted 58% to 42% in favor of the act.

The Maryland DREAM Act is legislation that would afford students from Maryland, who have been state high school students, and whose parents file state taxes, the opportunity to pay in-state tuition rates for their higher education. (For more information regarding the Maryland DREAM Act, check out our Maryland DREAM Act one-pager and our infographic. 

This is an important victory for the students and families who will be affected, for DREAMers across the country and for human rights supporters fighting for immigrants’ rights and the right to education. It’s important for another reason too. Ballot referendums are a critical barometer of public opinion, and an indication of how ready U.S citizens and residents are ready for political change on the issue in question. The results in Maryland are pretty clear – voters strongly support common sense measures that recognize the contributions that our talented young people, regardless of immigration status, are making to the nation.

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A Big Chance for Immigrant Students in Maryland?

On November 6, 2012, Maryland residents will vote on a ballot initiative that will allow undocumented students who have lived in Maryland, whose parents have paid taxes in Maryland, and who meet some other conditions, to pay in-state tuition fees for their higher education.

The Maryland DREAM Act, if it is able to come into force, would enable many DREAMers to attend state universities that would otherwise be prohibitively expensive. At a time when many states in the U.S. were passing anti-immigrant legislation (adding to a climate of hostility to migrants, those perceived to be migrants, and Native Americans), Maryland passed legislation in April 2011 that realized the right to equal access to education for a significant number of students.

Now, the Maryland Dream Act is in jeopardy. Let’s defend the right to education, and the Maryland DREAM Act! On November 6th, Vote ‘Yes!’ on Question 4 on the ballot. Help spread the word by sharing this graphic widely:

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The Girl On The Schoolbus

Malala Yousafzai

Pakistanis protest against the assassination attempt on Malala Yousafzai in Islamabad on October 11, 2012.© AFP/GettyImages

Malala Yousufzai got on the bus on Tuesday morning to go to school. With her, were two of her school friends, also bound for Mingora, the largest town in Pakistan’s Swat District, where their school is located. It was an ill-fated journey. Before the girls could get to school that morning, Tehreek-e-Taliban gunmen accosted the bus.

One of the girls, Shazia Razaman confirmed that they were specifically looking for Malala. She was easy to find, and when they did find her, they shot her in the head. Hours, later as Pakistanis and the world, watched, aghast and stunned at yet another act of inhumane violence, the spokesperson for the Tehreek-e-Taliban, specifically took responsibility for the attack saying:

“She is a Western-minded girl. She always speaks against us. We will target anyone who speaks against the Taliban.”

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Mumbai’s Urban Slums: Ground Zero for Human Dignity

Mumbai slum residents protest the destruction of their homes.

Mumbai slum residents protest the destruction of their homes by multi-national corporations. PHOTO: RAVEENDRAN/AFP/Getty Images

I’ve spent the past two weeks working with a number of NGOs focused on women’s human rights in the urban slums surrounding Mumbai. These communities are a ground zero for human dignity, where basic needs are not met and human rights are routinely crushed by poverty and the pace of urbanization.

The underworld I traverse each day exists within a global financial capital, a land of five-star hotels and luxury cars. The stark contrast illustrates the urgency of putting human dignity at the center of the dialogue about social change in an increasingly urbanized and inequitable landscape. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

California Dreamin’ Becomes A Reality, But Is It Enough?

By Amalia Greenberg Delgado, Immigrants’ Rights Coordinator

Immigrant rights groups rally in California

© J. Emilio Flores/Getty Images

Just two weeks ago Governor Brown signed into law California DREAM Act AB 130, allowing undocumented students, who studied at least three years in California high schools or have an equivalent high school degree, to be  eligible for non-state private scholarship awards.

For the last ten years California has already provided students the right to access instate tuition, regardless of immigration status, as long as they meet the requirements set under  AB 540, which was signed into law almost 10 years ago and was successfully upheld by the Supreme Court this past year.

California advocates continue to push Governor Brown to also sign AB 131, a law that would extend instate funds for undocumented students.

The implementation of both bills will prevent students from being forced to decide between foregoing a college education and remaining in the US with their families and community or leaving the U.S. in search of an affordable and accessible education.

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Girls' Education Under Attack in Northwestern Pakistan

Last week, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) released their “Education under Attack” report, in which they have experts discuss the incidence of politically and ideologically motivated attacks on teachers, students and school buildings throughout the world. The report includes both a case study and a country report on Pakistan, both of which paint a stark picture of the impact of the Taliban on education in northwestern Pakistan.

Young girls and men queue separately for cooked rations in Jalala camp, Pakistan, 17 May 2009. Copyright Amnesty International

Young girls and men queue separately for cooked rations in Jalala camp, Pakistan, 17 May 2009. Copyright UNHCR/H. Caux

The report tells us that between 2007 and March 2009, 108 schools were fully destroyed, an additional 64 were partially damaged, and 40,000 children, including 23,000 girls, were deprived of their education. This is occurring in the context of a ruthless campaign by the Taliban against girls’ education, which is part of a larger campaign to impose their strict social rules and norms on the people of Northwestern Pakistan. As UNESCO’s report clearly states, “The Taliban in Swat Valley, Pakistan, left no ambiguity about their intent to target girls’ education.”

As the Pakistani military celebrates the recent capture of several key Taliban leaders, it is important to remember the impact of the conflict between Taliban armed groups and the Pakistani military in the region on civilians. Clearly, the Taliban have been the cause of countless human rights abuses against civilians, including attacks on education. But any government military strategy aimed at countering the Taliban must place human rights concerns at the forefront.