Tuesday
Mar312015

TIRRC Members Celebrate as Tuition Equality Takes Another Step Forward

Nashville - Today, the House Education Administration and Planning Subcommittee passed a bill that would extend in-state tuition to undocumented students who meet certain criteria. HB675 passed the committee with an amendment on a voice vote, moving the bill forward to the full Education Administration and Planning Committee. The Senate bill (SB612) will be heard in the Senate Finance Committee tomorrow, after passing the Senate Education Committee earlier this month.

The vote comes on the heels of TIRRC's Tuition Equality Day on the Hill last Wednesday, where more than 150 undocumented students filled the capitol to advocate for the bill. For the past three years, the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) and our members across the state have worked tirelessly on the campaign for tuition equality by organizing undocumented students and building a coalition that includes businesses, education institutions, and community supporters. 

As originally introduced the bill would require individuals to meet certain criteria in order to qualify for in-state tuition, including spending 3 years at a Tennessee high school and graduating high school or obtaining a high school equivalency from the state of Tennessee, regardless of immigration status. The bill as amended would instead offer in-state tuition to undocumented students who are considered "lawfully present" after being granted deferred action through the federal program Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).  While we are disappointed by the exclusion of Tennessee youth who do not qualify for DACA, leaving higher education out of reach for so many undocumented students in Tennessee, we are encouraged by the movement on the issue and the House Education Subcommittee taking this important step towards increasing access and equity for immigrant students in Tennessee.

The following is a statement from Stephanie Teatro, Co-Executive Director of the TIRRC:

“We applaud the leadership of Chairman White and the members of the committee who voted to extend access to in-state tuition to undocumented graduates. We still have a long way to go before tuition equality becomes a reality in Tennessee, but today we celebrate with our youth members as the bill takes another big step forward." 

The following is a statement from Carlos Reyes, TIRRC member and Dreamer:

“When I graduate from high school, I want to go to college to become an anesthesiologist, but I'm worried I won't be able to afford tuition because I'll have to pay three times as much. Every time this bill moves forward, I'm one step closer to realizing my dreams." 


 

Wednesday
Mar042015

PRESS STATEMENT: TIRRC Members Celebrate as Tuition Equality Bill Passes Senate Education 

 3/4/2015

Nashville - Today, the Senate Education Committee passed a bill that would extend in-state tuition to students who meet certain criteria, regardless of immigration status.SB612/HB675 passed the committee by a vote of 6-2-1. Senators Crowe, Dickerson, Gardenhire, Gresham, Haile, and Tate voted to move the bill forward to the Senate Finance, Ways, and Means committee after an amendment was adopted to require that students meet certain academic criteria in order to qualify.

While we are disappointed by the inclusion of the academic requirements, which will leave higher education out of reach for so many undocumented students in Tennessee, we are encouraged by the movement on the issue and the Senate committee taking the first step to increasing access and equity for immigrant students in Tennessee.

For the past three years, the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) and our members across the state have worked tirelessly on the campaign for tuition equality by organizing undocumented students and building a coalition that includes businesses, education institutions, and community supporters. TIRRC members filled the room as the committee members cast their votes. 

The following is a statement from Stephanie Teatro, Co-Executive Director of the TIRRC:

“We applaud the leadership of Senator Gardenhire and the members of the committee who voted to extend access to in-state tuition to undocumented graduates. We have a long way to go before tuition equality is a reality for students in Tennessee, but today’s vote is a step in the right direction.”

The following is a statement from Diana Montero, TIRRC member and Dreamer:

“Even though this bill has a long way to go before it becomes law, the Senate Education committee took an incredible step forward in helping young people like me pay a fair price for college.”

Tuesday
Feb172015

An update on executive action and the Texas lawsuit

Dear friends,

As you've probably heard by now, a judge in Texas issued a preliminary injunction last night to halt some of the President's executive actions on immigration. Specifically, the injunction blocks the government from moving forward on the implementation of DAPA and the expansion of DACA--the deportation relief programs that would allow qualified immigrants to apply for a three-year reprieve from deportation and a work permit. 

While we are disheartened by the injunction, we are not discouraged. This is the ruling we were expecting, as the anti-immigrant judge in Texas was handpicked by the plaintiffs because his opinions on immigration are so far outside of the legal mainstream. Today's ruling is not the end of DACA and DAPA, but it is a delay until a higher court overturns the injunction and allows the programs to be implemented. We will keep you informed as the legal process unfolds. In the meantime, here's a helpful summary of the lawsuit and injunction, and you can read our statement to the press in English and Spanish

Whether there's a delay of weeks or months, we remain confident that the relief that we have fought so hard for will become a reality for the 50,000 eligible families in Tennessee. Since the announcement of the new programs on November 20th, we've already reached nearly 10,000 people through our information sessions and we will continue the important work of readying our communities to apply, no matter how long the injunction lasts.

Finally, it's important to remember that despite today's ruling, we are winning. We won an historic victory when the President made his announcement last November, and our opponents are grasping at straws to try to undermine that victory. We will defeat this legal challenge, and we will continue our work for a more permanent reform and greater relief for immigrant families. President Obama's executive actions reaffirmed our belief that when we organize, we can win big and transform our communities--and we will!  

All the best,

Stephanie Teatro
Co-Executive Director


Tuesday
Feb172015

La sentencia de Texas es solo el primer paso, familias inmigrantes prevalecerá

Después del anuncio del presidente el 20 de noviembre del 2014  sobre una serie de acciones ejecutivas; veintiséis estados, incluyendo Tennessee, presentaron una demanda para detener algunas de estas nuevas políticas. Específicamente, la demanda propone anular los programas de acción diferida que proporcionan un alivio a las deportaciones y permisos de trabajo para algunos inmigrantes indocumentados que llegaron antes de los 16 años de edad y otros que son padres de ciudadanos estadounidenses y residentes permanentes. Este programa permitiría hasta 5 millones de personas, la mayoría padres de ciudadanos estadounidenses, a aplicar para una protección de deportación y permisos de trabajo. 

Anoche, el juez Andrew Hanen, un juez asignado por George W. Bush del distrito del tribunal federal en Brownsville, Texas, falló en contra del gobierno federal y ha otorgado un “mandato judicial preliminar” a nivel nacional. Esto significa que el gobierno federal no puede continuar preparando las aplicaciones para la expansión del programa de DACA y las aplicaciones no estarán disponible mañana como estaba planeado.

Sin embargo, esta decisión es solo el primer paso de muchos y el único peligro que esta demanda presenta es un atraso en el proceso de aplicación. Se espera que el gobierno de Obama presente una apelación a esta decisión y que su caso sea considerado en otro tribunal. También se espera hacer una petición de emergencia donde se pueda continuar con la implementación de las acciones ejecutivas mientras que la demanda continua su proceso. Las acciones ejecutivas del presidente Obama fueron tomadas de una manera legal y dentro de su poder. Es solo cuestión de tiempo antes de que un juez falle a favor de los nuevos programas de acción diferida y las comunidades puedan empezar  a presentar sus aplicaciones.

Por favor comparta estas imagenes en sus redes sociales








Monday
Feb162015

Texas Immigration Lawsuit Plays Politics with People's Lives, Tennessee Immigrants Undeterred by Injunction

Nashville - Last night, Judge Andrew Hanen, a George W. Bush-appointed judge from the Federal District Court in Brownsville, Texas, placed a temporary injunction on the provisions of President Obama's executive action that would allow up to 5 million people, the majority of whom are parents of U.S. citizen children, to apply for a deferral from deportation and work permits.  We urge the Department of Justice to submit an emergency appeal and ask for a stay of the injunction pending a full appeal to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. USCIS had planned on accepting applications for the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program tomorrow and for the new Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program in May. Until the stay is granted, implementation of these programs has been halted. 

Judge Hanen's injunction is outside of the legal mainstream and will not be upheld by higher courts. More than a hundred constitutional law experts and legal scholars agree the President used his legal authority to begin to address our country’s broken immigration system. Strong legal precedents set as recently as 2012, when the Supreme Court ruled in Arizona v. United States that the federal government had complete authority to establish deportation priorities, demonstrate that the President has acted well within his authority. Ignoring legal precedent and unnecessarily delaying the implementation of these new programs seeks only to confuse immigrant community members and threaten the progress on desperately needed reforms to our immigration system. This lawsuit and today's injunction hurts immigrant families and hurts Tennessee.

The proponents of the lawsuit, including our Attorney General in Tennessee, are playing politics with people's lives. TIRRC urges Attorney General Slatery to withdraw Tennessee as a plaintiff from this politically motivated lawsuit. By being a party to the lawsuit, Attorney General Slatery is standing in the way of more than 50,000 people in Tennessee being able to apply for relief and participate more fully in our communities. While this lawsuit wastes taxpayer money and will ultimately fail, implementation of the deportation relief programs would increase employment mobility and increase the earnings, and taxable income, of qualifying immigrants by nearly 10%, and add up to $210 billion to our economy over 10 years. Attorneys General from twelve states and the District of Columbia and more than 30 mayors and 27 police chiefs from major cities have filed amici briefs in favor of the executive actions, arguing that enabling millions of immigrant families the opportunity to fully participate in civic life will benefit local economies and make communities safer. 

Despite today's setback, TIRRC is confident that the programs will ultimately go into effect. Since the President's announcement on November 20th, 2014, nearly 10,000 people that dream of working, driving, and more fully participating in their community without fear of deportation have already attended a TIRRC information session. We will continue our work helping immigrants across the state to understand who is eligible for the program and to prepare to apply.

The following is a statement from Stephanie Teatro, Co-Executive Director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC):

"This politically motivated lawsuit is playing politics with the lives of more than 50,000 families in our state. Attorney General Slatery should immediately withdraw Tennessee as a plaintiff. We are confident that a higher court will overturn the injunction and allow the programs to continue. In the meantime, we'll continue our work with immigrant families so that all eligible individuals are ready to submit their applications as soon as the programs go into effect."