Guest Voz: Rep. Luis Gutierrez — August 15 is a day of “long-overdue fairness” for young DREAMers

LatinaLista — Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez addressed his colleagues on the House floor regarding undocumented youth and the start of relief action for thousands of DREAMer students on August 15.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez addresses his colleagues on the House floor on August 1. 2012.

Mr. Speaker,

I believe that there is no greater cause for celebration in America than when we expand civil rights to more of our people.

We are never truer to our American values than when we look at a group of people and demand that they be treated with dignity and respect. We are never more patriotic than when we protect and expand the rights of honest, hard-working people. When we live up to our original promise of liberty and equality and give meaning to those quintessentially American words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident. All men are created equal.”

Right now, we have reason to celebrate.

Because shortly, the Department of Homeland Security and the White House are scheduled to announce guidelines on the application process for Dream Act eligible immigrants to defer deportation and get work permits so they can take a vital step toward living freely and fully in the only nation that has ever truly been their home.

This is a modest expansion of civil rights, but it is a fundamental one and it represents historic progress for immigrants to our nation.

Today, I want to congratulate the Dream Act eligible youth who have fought so hard for this right.

And I want to remind Dream Act eligible youth that because of the intelligent action taken by President Obama, on August 15, they will be able to apply for work permits and protection from deportation. On August 15, Mr. Speaker, they will take a step out of the shadows and into the light.

I encourage them to take this step, and I want them to know that help and resources are available.

But first – a warning. Any progress on immigration is soon followed by some unscrupulous attempts to make money off of the backs of deserving immigrants. So I say to my friends today – be careful.

Some immigration attorneys, some neighborhood “notarios”, or others may try to take advantage of you. But there is no reason that applying for relief through President Obama’s use of prosecutorial discretion should be expensive or cumbersome. If someone says the only way for a DREAMer to apply is to write a big check, my advice to DREAMers is they should run the other direction. They’re being lied to.

But DREAMers should run toward help, because help is on the way.

In Chicago yesterday, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and I announced a workshop that will be held on August 15 – the very first day young people can apply for work permits and deferred action.

The event will be at Navy Pier in Chicago and Mayor Emanuel, myself, and Senator Durbin, who has played such a leadership role on the DREAM Act for years, will be there. We will have all of the resources anyone needs to apply.

It will be free. We will answer questions and provide the resources necessary.

And we are not alone in Chicago. All across the country plans are being made by immigrant advocates and organizations and elected officials for how to help Dream Act eligible youth to apply for their work permits. Tomorrow, I will be joined by my colleagues to talk about resources available coast to coast.

As one important step, I encourage people to visit this website:

DreamRelief.org – that’s DreamRelief.org, to find out more about who is eligible, how to apply and where people can receive assistance.

On August 15, across America, honest and hard-working and law-abiding Dream Act eligible young immigrants should be celebrating by lining up and taking that historic step toward equality.

It’s a day of long-overdue fairness for our young people and I don’t want one eligible young person to miss this opportunity. I want our young DREAMers to demonstrate to America on August 15th what they’ve demonstrated to their communities and their families and their friends their entire lives.

They worked hard and earned this right. By excelling in school. By helping your neighborhoods. By serving your country.

I know who you are – you are the next generation of leaders of our great nation. On August 15, show all of America who you are.

And we need your example. Because it’s vital to remember that every time we’ve expanded civil rights in America – every time — someone tried to stand in the way.

From women’s suffrage to voting rights for African-Americans to the Americans with Disabilities Act to marriage equality – someone will raise their voice against expanding the rights enjoyed by some Americans to all Americans.

There is always someone who says – these rights, these liberties, and this equality – it’s for me – it’s not for you.

So I ask my Dream Act eligible friends – on August 15, show America who you are. And remind America that freedom and equality are for all of us.

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