Saturday, October 30, 2010
From United We Dream Network:
Students Continue Building DREAM Movement, Announce Next Steps
New structure, board members, and staff for nation's largest immigrant youth organization
The United We Dream (UWD) Network convened 120 immigration youth leaders from across the country to select regional leadership, welcome staff, elect board members and prepare for the final push for the DREAM Act during its third field meeting of the year. The meeting was held at Bluegrass Technical and Community College in Lexington, KY; and sponsored by the student organization “Enlace” and the Kentucky Dream Coalition. The United We Dream Network was founded in 2009, and it now represents 41 immigrant youth-led, youth-ran organizations across the country. It previously held meetings this year in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Raleigh, North Carolina.
“Bringing so many young organizers together is proof of the movement building capacity of the United We Dream Network,” added UWD Board Chair Cristina Jimenez. “We are expanding our reach and building the foundation for a long-term, sustainable immigrant rights movement led by undocumented youth”.
Attendees shared strategies on how to get voters out to vote for the midterm elections, mobilizing callers for the November 8-13th Week of Action, and courting Republican support for the DREAM Act. “We are ready to keep fighting for our dreams by telling people to get out and vote, and then demanding the DREAM Act during the lameduck session,” said Gaby Pacheco of the Trail of Dreams, who will be working alongside other dreamers to get voters out to the polls in Nevada.
The attendees selected a national coordinating committee (NCC) which will lead the campaign work of the network for the next year. To create this committee, member organizations were broken down in seven geographical regions to select fourteen organizations to the NCC. The members of the NCC are: Florida Youth Movement, DreamActivist Virginia, New York State Youth Leadership Council, Student Immigrant Movement (Massachusetts), Immigrant Youth Justice League (Illinois), Latino Youth Collective (Indiana), Youth Empowered in the Struggle (Wisconsin), Kansas/Missouri Dream Alliance, Familias Immigrantes y Estudiantes en la Lucha (Texas), Orange County Dream Team (California), Padres y Jovenes Unidos (Colorado), and the Arizona Dream Act Coalition.
“Immigrant youth in different parts of the country face different realities,” said national coordinator Carlos Saavedra. “Creating regional structures will bring better communication among our 41 affiliates and ensure our voices are heard at the federal, state, and local levels”.
Member organizations also elected three new board members for UWD; they are Kevin Kang, Erin Howard, and Felipe Vargas. Kevin is part of the MinKwon Center for Community Action in New York; Erin lives in Kentucky and is a founder of the Kentucky Dream Coalition, and Felipe lives in Indiana and is part of the Latino Youth Collective and FIRME. They will serve in the board for at least one year, and up to two years.
United We Dream also announced the transition of co-founder Jose Luis Marantes into a staff position. As managing consultant, Jose Luis will guide the organizational development for UWD. Jose Luis has previously worked for immigrant-rights organizations such as Florida Immigrant Coalition, Students Working for Equal Rights, and Center for Community Change. He will be based in Orlando, Florida.