DREAM alive for help group
This year’s focus for Jovenes Inmigrantes para un Futuro Mejor, or Young Immigrants for a Better Future, a UH student organization, is Congressional legislation that would benefit undocumented students and allow them to become residents.
The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, was reintroduced into the Senate on March 6, 2007, but Congress has not voted on the legislation. The DREAM Act would allow undocumented students to obtain a conditional residency after studying in a university for two years toward a bachelor’s degree and would allow them to pay in state tuition if one has not had any other legal problems.
"(The DREAM Act) would give students residency… and (let them) be able to work in their degree because at the present time they’re graduating and they’re not able to work," said psychology junior Liliana Castillo, president of JIFM.
JIFM was one of 14 organizations involved in a march on April 28 to promote the passing of the DREAM Act, which would allow families to stay together despite residency status. The march also coincided with last year’s nationwide immigration demonstrations against House Resolution 4437, a bill that would have made the act of entering the country without documentation a felony and any aid given to undocumented people, such as shelter or employment, a crime.
JIFM also supports side projects to improve the quality of life and education in other places.
"I’m trying to get something on campus started," Castillo said. "(Such as) The Houston Solidarity with Chiapas Network that would provide medical supplies and school supplies to a lot of the poorer collective communities in Chiapas, Mexico."
More than $2,000 has been raised for the project, bringing the amount close to the July goal of $3,000.
"In November of last year, I just thought it was a good idea, and I’ve been working with some kids that are interested… and a lot of JIFM members are involved," Castillo said.
JIFM has more than 100 participants, of which about 30 are active in the organization.
"There’s a lot of members, and not all of them are active because of what has happened with immigration over the past year or so," Castillo said. "A lot of them have had a lot of fear instilled."
Last year was marked with surprise immigration raids conducted by the Department of Homeland Security, which led to hundreds of deportations.
Despite the lessened membership, Castillo said, JIFM has made a point of reaching out to community public schools by providing information and support to undocumented students trying to attend a university after graduating high school.
Castillo, a former undocumented student who received residency during high school, said that she would rather take the risk for other undocumented students.
"For (undocumented students) to graduate and then not be able to work or have to pay out of state tuition even though they’ve been here so long is just devastating," Castillo said. "I may damage myself, but I won’t get deported and take the risk for them so that they can have those benefits that I have, and have the opportunities I’m going to have in the future."
For more information on JIFM, visit www.uhjifm.org.