Originally posted on Citizen Orange.

In case you missed it, the Associated Press recently covered our request for a meeting with Senator Scott Brown (R-Mass.).  We are asking Sen. Brown to meet with us before April 17.

Harvard College Act on a Dream has been trying to meet with Sen. Brown since he was first elected at the beginning of the semester.  We were told that his office was a mess the first couple of months, but we were finally asked to fax our meeting request to his office.  We sent the fax on March 5, 2010. 

After not getting a commitment to a meeting for over a month, we were forced to take our meeting request public.  We joined forces with the Student Immigrant Movement to set up an online petition which already has over 100 signatures (please sign it if you haven’t done so, yet).  The online petition resulted in coverage from the AP, and now our request is all over the web.  We were happy to hear through the AP that his office has received our meeting request and will shortly ask for more information from us.

Still, it’s going to take a lot more than an AP article and a hundred petition signatures to secure a meeting with Brown.  Here are some things you can do to help:

  1. SIGN the petition at change.org and ask all of your friends and family to do the same, especially if they are Massachusetts residents. 
  2. CALL Brown’s D.C. office (202-224-4543) and his local office (617-565-3170) to ask whether or not Brown will meet with us before April 17.
  3. JOIN the Facebook group and ask your Facebook friends to do the same
  4. HELP us fight any misinformation or nativism that you see online regarding our meeting request.   

Currently, we are not asking for any policy commitments from Sen. Brown.  We are only asking for a simple meeting.  We want Sen. Brown to hear the stories of immigrant youth who have been affected by the brokenfederal immigration system so that he can decide for himself what should be done.  We believe that if Sen. Brown hears from these youth, who know only the United States as their home, that he will do the right thing. 

While immigrant youth are at the center of this struggle, it is important to state that it’s not just immigrant youth that are affected by this broken immigration system.  I am a U.S. citizen, a constituent of Sen. Brown’s, and this issue affects me more deeply than almost any other issue that the federal government is currently considering.  It affects the U.S. citizen family members of these youth.  It affects the peers that these youth study alongside of.  It affects the communities they are a part of.  It affects a nation which does not take advantage of some of the most talented individuals that it puts through its education system. 

It is also important to state that contrary to nativist talking points, there is no "line" for undocumented youth to get into the back of in order to secure legal status.  The same is true for the vast majority of all unauthorized migrants, for that matter.  If undocumented youth could get in line for citizenship, they would, but they can’t.  That’s a big part of why the system is broken and why it needs to be fixed. 

So, when the AP publishes an article that the Boston Globe entitles "Immigrant Students seek meeting with Brown" and the Boston Herald distorts that headline into "Illegal aliens seek Scott Brown’s help" first let the Boston Herald know that "no human being is illegal".  Then, let the Boston Herald know that this issue doesn’t just affect undocumented youth, it affects all of us.  And finally, let all of those nasty nativist commenters know that there is no line for undocumented youth to get into the back of, and there is no humane way to deport them all.  Undocumented youth are American in every sense of the word except for a stupid nine-digit social security number, and it is time that we start treating them as such, and give them the right to exist in the only country they know as their home. 

Below is both the description and text of the petition I encourage you and all of your friends to sign. 

Description:

Leaders of Harvard College Act on a Dream and the Student Immigrant Movement are asking Senator Scott Brown to to meet with immigrant youth from Harvard and across Massachusetts who are being adversely affected by the broken federal immigration system before April 17.

By some estimates, there are currently two million undocumented youth living in the United States.  Every year approximately 65,000 undocumented youth graduate from high schools across the U.S.  With graduation season fast approaching, yet another generation of undocumented immigrant youth will be lost to the shadows if something doesn’t change. 

Having been brought into the country as young children, these youth have lived most of the lives in the United States, and only know this country as their home.  After graduating from high school, they face unique barriers to higher education, are unable to work legally in the U.S., and are increasingly at risk of detention, deportation, and even death.  Under current U.S. immigration law, there is no absolutely no mechanism for considering the special circumstances of these youth. 

We believe some of the following stories from undocumented youth across Massachusetts illustrate how desperate the situation is:

Last year, Nur Munir, our peer from the Harvard Divinity School, disappeared for over a month after he was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).  Another one of our peers at Harvard, Alan, whose story was covered in the Boston Globe, was forced to leave the United States in January, effectively barring him from ever returning to the the only country he’s ever known as his home.  Another immigrant youth from Massachusetts, 19-year-old Gustavo Rezende recently committed suicide.

We believe these situations could have been avoided if it weren’t for the broken federal immigration system.  There are at least a dozen others at Harvard and thousands of others across Massachusetts that are at risk of similar fates if something isn’t done soon.

We’re asking Sen. Brown to meet with immigrant youth so that he can better understand the hardships the members of all our communities face as a result of a broken federal immigration system, and help us come up with solutions.  We understand that Sen. Brown is extremely busy, but the lives of our peers and the health of our communities are at increasingly at risk with each passing day.  This issue affects all of us, native born and immigrant, documented and undocumented alike.  Please stand with us in calling for Sen. Brown to meet with immigrant youth before he returns to Washington D.C. on the weekend of April 17.

IMPORTANT NOTE:

After signing this petition you will get an email back from Jennifer Han, Director of Scheduling for Sen. Brown, asking you to fill out a form email for a meeting request.  This is how we filled out the form an we encourage supporters to do the same:

Organization Name and Description: Harvard Act on a Dream – A Harvard student group that organizes for the interests of immigrant youth at Harvard and works closely with local immigrant youth organizations like the Student Immigrant Movement.

Contact Name and Title: Mr. Kyle de Beausset

Meeting Purpose (need specific issues): To hear the stories of immigrant youth affected by the federal immigration system.

MA Connection: We are all residents of Massachusetts

Meeting Location: Massachusetts

Work #: N/A

Cell #: Private

E-mail: beausset[at]fas[dot]harvard[dot]edu

Address: Harvard College Act On A Dream, Student Organization Center at Hilles, Box #59, Shepard Street Cambridge, MA 02138

Requested Date (no open-ended requests): April 16 (Or anytime before April 17)

Suggested Time: 5:00 p.m.

Meeting Attendee(s) Name, City of Residence, Title and Affiliation (if requestor is attending, please include his/her information):  Leaders of Act on a Dream — Kyle de Beausset (Cambridge, MA), Scott Elfenbein (Cambridge, MA), Melissa Tran (Cambridge, MA).  Leaders of the Student Immigrant Movement — Isabel (Methuen, MA), Deiv (Dartmouth, MA), Renata (Brockton, MA)

Letter:

Subject: Will Scott Brown Meet With Undocumented Youth Before April 17

Dear Jennifer Han,

It is my understanding that you are Director of Scheduling for Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown.  I am writing to ask that you please schedule a meeting with Sen. Brown and select immigrant youth from Harvard and across Massachusetts before April 17.

The broken federal immigration system doesn’t just affect immigrant youth, it affects all of us, native born and immigrant, documented and undocumented.  It affects the health of the Massachusetts communities Sen. Brown represents.  That is why I’m asking that Sen. Brown takes time out of his busy schedule to hear first hand from those that have been adversely affected.

This is urgent.  Undocumented immigrant youth in the United States are increasingly at risk of detention, deportation, and even death.  In the next couple of months, another generation of undocumented immigrant youth will graduate from high school, or even college, only to be relegated to the shadows.

One student from Harvard, Alan, whose story was covered in the Boston Globe, was forced to leave the United States in January, effectively barring him from ever returning to the the only country he’s ever known as his home (http://www.boston.com/news/education/higher/articles/2009/07/27/after_harvard_illegal_immigrant_is_facing_uncertainty/).  Another immigrant youth from Massachusetts, 19-year-old Gustavo Rezende recently committed suicide (http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/features/x90198082/Immigrants-suicide-leaves-behind-pain).

I’m asking that Sen. Brown meet with select immigrant youth from Harvard and the broader Massachusetts area before there are more stories he’s unable to hear in person.  This affects all of us, and it’s urgent that Sen. Brown hear the stories of immigrant youth now.