Immigrant Youth Movement Builds Momentum in Maryland

Obama's deportation "deferred action" program and Maryland's "Dream Act" are fueling the JSA movement.

It was a watershed week for Maryland's “Dreamers”—a week that brought the first step toward temporary reprieve for more than 1,000 illegal immigrants brought to the country as children, and another step for an immigrant youth movement that is gaining steam as voters stare down a November referendum on in-state tuition for undocumented students.

Casa de Maryland, the state’s largest immigrant advocacy group, led a push to get more than 1,000 applicants to Langley Park and Baltimore on Wednesday and Thursday for the onset of President Obama's program to give certain illegal immigrants a two-year shield against being deported.

Announced in June, Obama’s “deferred action” program applies to illegal immigrants who:

  • came to the United States when they were younger than 16,
  • have lived in the U.S. for at least five years,
  • are 30 years old or younger, and
  • have never been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, multiple misdemeanor offenses or pose a threat to national security.

They must also meet one of these conditions:

  • be enrolled in school,
  • have graduated from high school (or earned a GED), or
  • were honorably discharged from the U.S. military.

Organizers of the Langley Park and Baltimore clinics estimate some 10,000 people in Montgomery County are eligible. Nationally, the count approaches 2 million, reported USA Today.

Advocates and applicants celebrated the long-awaited measure this week across the country—even though applicants’ long-term status remains unclear because the policy could be revoked by a new president or by an act of Congress, reported the Huffington Post.

That celebration was nonetheless effusive Friday night at a five-hour concert in downtown Silver Spring. The concert marked a crystallizing moment for the JSA Movement, which has rallied thousands of immigrant youths hoping to tilt November's Dream Act referendum in their favor.

JSA sprung to life after , whom federal agents seized with his parents in March and then .

The movement quickly turned its focus to Maryland’s version of the Dream Act, which would allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition if they graduated from a state high school and their families pay state taxes, among other requirements.

Gov. Martin O’Malley ratified the Dream Act in May. Opponents promptly mounted a petition drive that has .

The movement, which now goes by the moniker “Justice for Students in America,” is determined to win the referendum with its grassroots, youth-driven campaign. JSA has amassed more than 2,000 supporters on Facebook and nearly 10,000 followers on Twitter.

“JSA has pretty much not only inspired the local community, politicians, city and county council members and state’s attorneys, we have also infiltrated the schools and reached out to the rising voters that are going to be voting in the upcoming election, getting them involved,” said Francisco Cartagena, one of JSA’s founding members.

With the start of school approaching, JSA plans to ratchet up its efforts to draw even more young immigrants into the political fold.

“What we plan on doing is branching out to high schools and community colleges and continue the voter registrations and get them to understand what these politicians are saying, and essentially to hold them accountable once they are elected,” said Cartagena.

Help Save Maryland.org August 20, 2012 at 06:58 PM
Erick, I did not recognize your name. No matter. A self employed illegal alien is still a lawbreaker. Cowardly? You are an univited guest in our country. Nothing to be proud of. Yes I talked with you and many other illegal aliens at the excellent film screening "They Come To America". Go to www.theycometoamerica.com The film highlights the massive crossings of primarily Hispanic illegals via Mexico and the negative impact on American citizens. We are showing the film again in Frederick County this Thursday, August 23, 7pm Frederick Community College. All are welcome! Free dvd of film for all who attend! Erick, I treated you nicely and respectfully like I treat all people I meet. But at the end of the day you have no moral or legal right to be in Maryland if you are an illegal alien. (Assuming you are who you say you are!). i look forward to our next encounter.
Help Save Maryland.org August 20, 2012 at 07:00 PM
Attention fellow citizens. Help Save Maryland is co-hosting the excellent film screening "They Come To America". Go to www.theycometoamerica.com The film highlights the massive crossings of primarily Hispanic illegals via Mexico and the negative impact on American citizens. We are showing the film again in Frederick County this Thursday, August 23, 7pm Frederick Community College. All are welcome! Free dvd of film for all who attend!
Erick Lastarria August 20, 2012 at 07:27 PM
It was $10.00 per CD before. What's the deal with changing the price? I bet no one wanted to pay $10.00 for that biased CD. The people who are in the movie barely speak English. It's a terrible movie. No wonder no one wanted to buy the rights to this movie and the guy who shot this movie will never gain a place in the documentary filming arena. I bet you all the money he won't.
Erick Lastarria August 20, 2012 at 07:32 PM
Of course I am an illegal alien until my green card comes in the mail. I have a driver's license, credit cards from big financial institutions and bills with my name. I have all the right in the world to be here. I pay taxes remember. And, I'm in the process of getting my permanent residency since February 29, 2012.
Help Save Maryland.org August 20, 2012 at 07:32 PM
Erick, we have a donor who enjoyed the movie so much he purchased 500 copies to distribute as gifts to fellow concerned Americans! What a great and generous country we live in. You of all people should know that.
Theresa Defino August 20, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Save Maryland. Save humanity. Support the Maryland Dream Act! http://www.casademaryland.org/get-involved-mainmenu-102/maryland-dream http://md-iaf.org/content/about-md-dream-act http://educatingmarylandkids.org/
Erick Lastarria August 20, 2012 at 07:40 PM
Mr. Brad Botwin can't come to this forum to advocate fighting illegal immigration while opposing to any initiative to fix this broken system. It's in the best interest of our state to help these students come out of the shadows and identify themselves. How many students fill the mold he has created for his idea of an illegal alien? I know I don't. I pay income taxes, real property taxes and have car insurance. I work at a law firm. I am in the process of getting my green card. But, yet, he wants us to believe that the Maryland Dream Act and the Deferred Action for Childhood Beneficiaries are all thugs and English illiterate. Nothing further from the truth.
Help Save Maryland.org August 20, 2012 at 07:52 PM
Erick, the voting citizens of Maryland will decide the issue on November 6. Referendum # 1, yes or No to provide In-State tuition for illegal aliens. Not sure how you survived in the shadows all these years. A house, car, taxes, wow. And no green card to boot. Are you GSP El Salvador? Anyway hope you dont try to vote November 6, but you already know that as you work in a law firm.
Erick Lastarria August 20, 2012 at 07:57 PM
I guess the Tea Party and your dear Help Save Maryland will indeed send Mr. Lynch to Hawaii. Good job. And, I thought you were against wasteful spending. I guess I was wrong.
Erick Lastarria August 20, 2012 at 08:02 PM
I am Peruvian. I was dressed on a suit the day we met at the Rockville Library. I guess you don't see illegal aliens dress in suits these days. I had a normal life all these years. I have a bachelor in political science and philosophy. I want to go to law school and pay back to society in greater and better ways. There isn't anything wrong with that. But, knowing you and your cohorts, you will say: "go to Peru and make it a better country."
Erick Lastarria August 20, 2012 at 08:09 PM
I didn't know you were a prophet. How can you see CASA of Maryland pushing for financial aid in the future? Dude, seriously, you need to stick to the issue. It's about in-state tuition for long time Maryland residents who happen to be undocumented.
Erick Lastarria August 20, 2012 at 08:11 PM
This is a serious accusation Brad. I hope you stand by your word when we meet again.
J. Medina August 20, 2012 at 08:30 PM
Brad your just a behind the door biget. Maybe they are given Latino kids and opportunity since the common American student keeps dropping out of school. I mean somebody has got to be educated in this country.
Theresa Defino August 20, 2012 at 08:38 PM
Here's the actual language that will appear on the ballot in November. Note the provisions of the Dream Act to not apply only to immigrants. Question 4 Referendum Petition Public Institutions of Higher Education – Tuition Rates (Ch. 191 of the 2011 Legislative Session) Establishes that individuals, including undocumented immigrants, are eligible to pay in-state tuition rates at community colleges in Maryland, provided the student meets certain conditions relating to attendance and graduation from a Maryland high school, filing of income taxes, intent to apply for permanent residency, and registration with the selective service system (if required); makes such students eligible to pay in-state tuition rates at a four-year public college or university if the student has first completed 60 credit hours or graduated from a community college in Maryland; provides that students qualifying for in-state tuition rates by this method will not be counted as in-state students for purposes of counting undergraduate enrollment; and extends the time in which honorably discharged veterans may qualify for in-state tuition rates.
Help Save Maryland.org August 21, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Hey Union boy. Lets try to keep the conversation on the table. I don't appreciate being called a bigot. We are having an open discussion here. And get a dictionary. Its "bigot", not "biget". Clearly the Maryland public school education failed you.
Help Save Maryland.org August 21, 2012 at 04:11 PM
It applies to illegal aliens. "Undocumented immigrants" is not a term used by the Supreme Court, the Justice Department and citizens.
ED August 21, 2012 at 05:31 PM
I have a question that perhaps one of you can answer. If a student came here prior to the age of 15, receives the deportation deferral and a work permit, would they currently be eligible for in-state tuition at colleges in Maryland?
Erick Lastarria August 21, 2012 at 06:16 PM
It depends where the student lives. Montgomery College in Rockville extends in-county tuition to those who have graduated from a MCPS institution. A very good policy.
ED August 21, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Erick, thank you for that answer. I was aware that Montgomery College has that policy, but my question is whether colleges, such as the University of Maryland, will charge Maryland students who possess a deportation deferral and a work permit in-state tuition or out-of-state tuition regardless of Maryland's Dream Act implementation.
Corbin Dallas Multipass August 21, 2012 at 06:43 PM
ED - My guess is that as long as they meet the criteria of the dream act as Theresa pointed to them above, i.e. they attend CC for two years with sufficient grades, submit tax returns for three, and are accepted into the institution of higher learning, they probably would receive in state tuition. But I'm not a lawyer, just somewhat familiar with this law's wording.
Help Save Maryland.org August 21, 2012 at 06:49 PM
Ed, there is alot of confusion with the President's whimsical implementation of a 2 yr Amnesty and 2 yr work permits. Not really sure what to believe but most of the literature says it has no impact on issue. We are going on the assumption that it will not affect the Referendum vote up or down on in-state tuition for illegal alien students. Montgomery College, which has violated state and federal law in providing in-state tuition for illegals for the past 5 or so years, has been dragged to court by Judicial Watch and concerned local citizens. Since MC survives on taxpayer dollars you would think they would follow the law.
Erick Lastarria August 21, 2012 at 06:53 PM
I pushed the University of Maryland to extend in-state tuition to three students who were in the process of getting their green cards. They only need to have a pending immigration case. I hope they classify deferred action as a pending immigration status. It's common sense.
Erick Lastarria August 21, 2012 at 06:55 PM
Frankly, some kind of action is better than nothing at all. What's the Republican alternative? Self-deportation? I will never leave my family behind. I was taught that family came first.
ED August 21, 2012 at 07:11 PM
Thank you to everyone that answered my question(s).
J. Medina August 22, 2012 at 02:49 AM
Brad-First of all im not a boy im a man and secondly you have clearly proven my case when you use the word "boy" only racist bigot speak in that tone. So thanks for confirming that for us. Also, you should feel good now that I've helped you find your true self. By the way undocumented immigrants is the proper term for immigrants that have not received their proper immigration documents. Where it includes African, Chinese, Ethiopians, Japanese and all other cultures that make up the United States. An "alien" to my knowledge is something that is from out of space. Not only that, but you keep talking about " your tax dollars " how about the billions of dollars that is contributed in tax dollars by those who work and can not claim it, so the money sits there so people like you can have paved roads and be able to enjoy the finest thing this country has to offer. So stop your senseless arguments...........Union Yes!!
Help Save Maryland.org August 22, 2012 at 03:16 AM
What? Undocumented is the proper term? Better check that with Justice Sotomayer. The proper term is illegal alien. What did your buddies lose their documents on the way across the Mexican border. Lol. We have numerous ethnic groups in the US but just one culture. And we still have unions but that is fading fast. Did u read how much union leaders make. Talk about riping off workers. Christ I'm in the wrong business!
J. Medina August 22, 2012 at 03:42 AM
LLS.......too funny. And yeah I know how much they make, its well deserved too. Union leaders do the work that politicians should be doing. Standing up and fighting for working families. In fact, where do you think OSHA, overtime pay, Child Labor Laws, NLRB and a whole host of benefits that we now enjoy came from. Unions !!!! Your just another brain wached victim of the right wing GOP. Its ok. I understand. Lol.
J. Medina August 22, 2012 at 03:46 AM
Listen there are over 50 million Latinos in the US so obviously they are not goin anywhere. So just learn from them, about them and keep an open mind and trust me you may like the flavor.
Bill Hussein O'Stalin September 14, 2012 at 11:30 AM
The ballot question is poorly worded and ignores the tax implications by voting yes. Someone will pay but the taxpayers are told by the freeloaders "Oh, wont' worry, it won't be that bad. We will be productive and contribute." That won't happen.
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