Saturday
Apr182015

POLICY UPDATE: Tuition Equality Passes Tennessee Senate

On Thursday, April 16th dozens of TIRRC members and dreamers donning caps and gowns, watched from the Senate Chambers as the tuition equality bill passed! We wanted to share the good news with you, and ask for your help as we move towards a final vote in the House of Representatives. 

In 2012, TIRRC members and their teachers vowed that future classes would have greater access to college. Now three years later, a bill that would grant in-state tuition to DACA recipients has passed one of the last hurdles. We are closer than ever thanks to the leadership of Tennessee dreamers and a diverse coalition that includes business groups, faith organizations, and institutions of higher education. Our members and member organizations across the state have been working tirelessly -- from Latino Memphis to the Unity Center in Cleveland, this has truly been a statewide, grassroots effort.

As the legislative session comes to a close, the bill will move quickly through two more committees and head to a final vote on the House floor early next week, if we're lucky. Anti-immigrant groups are mobilizing their members to call legislators and voice opposition to tuition equality, but we know that Tennesseans believe all students have the right to an education, which is why your Representative needs to hear from you.

Please call your Representative and ask them to support tuition equality. To find his or her contact info, click here and type your address in the "Find My Legislator" box on the right.

Sample script: 

"Hello my name is _________________, I live in __________________, and I was calling to urge Representative _______________ to support HB675, the Tuition Equality bill that allows many immigrant students to pay in-state tuition. Our students are our future and we should make sure that every Tennessee student can pay a fair price for college. Please vote yes on HB675 and give these students a chance to follow their dreams. Thank you." 

Please encourage all of your friends, family, and community networks to make the call, too! 

P.S. If you're in Middle Tennessee, mark your calendars for nextWednesday, April 22, to celebrate the campaign with us at La Hacienda on Nolensville Rd. in Nashville from 5:30-7:30 pm

Monday
Apr062015

TIRRC and More Than 150 Civil, Labor, and Immigrant Rights' Groups Join Amicus Brief in Support of President's Immigration Actions

NASHVILLE – President Obama’s recent immigration actions would allow millions of immigrants to apply for relief from deportation and work authorization, and would improve the nation’s economy and society, civil and immigrants’ rights groups argue in an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief filed today. This brief was one of several filed in support of the Obama administration’s immigration actions, which economists predict will raise the nation’s GDP by more than $200 billion over the next ten years. 

On February 17, 2015, a federal district court blocked implementation of the president’s initiative to expand Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), under which certain immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children can apply for protection from deportation and work authorization. The court also blocked implementation of a second initiative that would allow certain immigrant parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents to apply for protection from deportation and work authorization (known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA). 

The groups that filed the amicus brief argue that delays in implementing the two initiatives will harm the nation’s economy and prevent aspiring Americans from participating more fully in their communities. The brief features profiles of small business owners, primary breadwinners, and social activists who would be able to increase their economic and societal contributions if granted the relief proposed by DACA and DAPA. 50,000 undocumented immigrants in Tennessee are estimated to be eligible for these programs.

"We are proud to join the amicus brief and defend the many opportunities that DACA and DAPA present for our members across the state. When our members are able to apply for deferred action they will be able to more fully participate and contribute to our economies and communities," said Stephanie Teatro, Co-Executive Director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition. "The decision by our Attorney General to join the politically motivated Texas lawsuit doesn't align with our Tennessee values and doesn't represent the interests of our state. The delay of these programs harms not only our members, but our broader community."

Today’s filings are the latest legal step in Texas, et al. v. United States, et al., the 27-state challenge to the administration’s immigration actions. On April 17, the Fifth Circuit will hear oral arguments in a request for an emergency stay of the lower court’s injunction. If granted, the emergency stay would allow the U.S. government to begin implementation of the DAPA and “expanded DACA” initiatives. 

On April 17th, the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) will organize a delegation of over fifty immigrant leaders from across the state to go to New Orleans, Louisiana for the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals hearing on the 27-state lawsuit against the President’s executive actions on immigration. The majority of the 50 person delegation are among those who would be eligible to apply for the programs when they become available. The TIRRC delegation will depart onThursday, April 16th. In New Orleans, the group will participate in rallies, press conferences, and other actions in support of the executive actions. 

Monday
Apr062015

TIRRC Joins More Than 150 Civil, Labor, and Immigrant Rights' Groups Join Amicus Brief in Support of President's Immigration Actions

NASHVILLE – President Obama’s recent immigration actions would allow millions of immigrants to apply for relief from deportation and work authorization, and would improve the nation’s economy and society, civil and immigrants’ rights groups argue in an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief filed today. This brief was one of several filed in support of the Obama administration’s immigration actions, which economists predict will raise the nation’s GDP by more than $200 billion over the next ten years. 

On February 17, 2015, a federal district court blocked implementation of the president’s initiative to expand Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), under which certain immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children can apply for protection from deportation and work authorization. The court also blocked implementation of a second initiative that would allow certain immigrant parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents to apply for protection from deportation and work authorization (known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA). 

The groups that filed the amicus brief argue that delays in implementing the two initiatives will harm the nation’s economy and prevent aspiring Americans from participating more fully in their communities. The brief features profiles of small business owners, primary breadwinners, and social activists who would be able to increase their economic and societal contributions if granted the relief proposed by DACA and DAPA. 50,000 undocumented immigrants in Tennessee are estimated to be eligible for these programs.

"We are proud to join the amicus brief and defend the many opportunities that DACA and DAPA present for our members across the state. When our members are able to apply for deferred action they will be able to more fully participate and contribute to our economies and communities," said Stephanie Teatro, Co-Executive Director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition. "The decision by our Attorney General to join the politically motivated Texas lawsuit doesn't align with our Tennessee values and doesn't represent the interests of our state. The delay of these programs harms not only our members, but our broader community."

Today’s filings are the latest legal step in Texas, et al. v. United States, et al., the 27-state challenge to the administration’s immigration actions. On April 17, the Fifth Circuit will hear oral arguments in a request for an emergency stay of the lower court’s injunction. If granted, the emergency stay would allow the U.S. government to begin implementation of the DAPA and “expanded DACA” initiatives. 

On April 17th, the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) will organize a delegation of over fifty immigrant leaders from across the state to go to New Orleans, Louisiana for the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals hearing on the 27-state lawsuit against the President’s executive actions on immigration. The majority of the 50 person delegation are among those who would be eligible to apply for the programs when they become available. The TIRRC delegation will depart onThursday, April 16th. In New Orleans, the group will participate in rallies, press conferences, and other actions in support of the executive actions. 

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.”