Immigration Reform Gets Boost from CASA de Maryland’s DREAM Campaign

Casa de MDOn this blog, I try to share both my thoughts and those of others standing for welcome at LIRS and nationwide.  Today I’d like to introduce an interview by Luke Telander, Program Associate for Outreach at LIRS. He speaks with Shola Ajayi, advocacy and elections specialist at CASA de Maryland.

On Nov. 6, 2012 Maryland made history and became the first state to enact DREAM legislation through a popular vote.  While the results were a stunning 58/42 win for reform, the road to the MD DREAM Act’s passage was far from without bumps.  It took the powerful organizing of groups like CASA de Maryland, engaging a wide variety of people and institutions, to convince the people of Maryland to stand for welcome at the ballot box.

The ramifications of the MD DREAM Act victory went far beyond the state’s borders, however.  MD DREAM was widely seen as a test run for national comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) efforts.   The Nov. 6 victory modeled how broad coalitions of different faiths, races, and ideologies could come together for immigration reform. The MD DREAM Act provided a call to action, announcing that this was indeed the time for immigration reform.

Shola Ajayi, Advocacy and Elections Specialist at CASA de Maryland, was one of the key players in the passage of the MD DREAM Act, and offered insights via email on the landmark law and its influence on the debate.

Luke Telander: (LT) What motivates you to get up in the morning and fight for justice for immigrants?

Shola Ajayi: (SA) No one decides, I am going to leave my home, family, and everything I have ever known on a whim.  Decisions like this are made in the face of desperation either to escape violence, hunger, or disaster.   Immigrants from all over the world come to America for a chance for a better life, for themselves and their children. Many of the undocumented feel that they need to live in the shadows to accomplish these dreams. However, CASA de Maryland and similar organizations are here to say that no one should ever be embarrassed about who they are.  The immigrant community, especially young people, have the opportunity to be the future political, medical, educational and innovative leaders that help our nation grow.  At CASA De Maryland we look to support that community.

LT: What lessons do you think the MD DREAM Act campaign can lend to the greater comprehensive immigration reform effort? 

SA: On November 6, 2012, Maryland voters, for the first time in our nation’s history, delivered a pro-immigrant reform at the ballot box when they approved the Maryland DREAM Act by a large margin. We believe that while the issue was popular with a wide swath of voters, the decisive victory was attributable to the strong support of the African-American community.

Latinos and immigrants are wholeheartedly grateful for the remarkable support given by the African-American community in the fight for equality for our immigrant youth. It demonstrates that we as a community can overcome any obstacles if we work together, hand-in-hand.

LT: What is the greatest roadblock you have encountered advocating for immigration reform?

SA: Most Americans immigrated to our country generations ago. Since most people do not deal directly with our immigration system and process they have no idea how back logged and broken our current system is. 

LT: Have some of the coalitions you helped build for the MD DREAM Act continued to collaborate and advocate for reform?

SA: Yes, CASA will take a lead role in a national campaign entitled Keeping Families Together that elevates the voices of mixed status families to pressure legislators to finally pass CIR.  This coalition is comprised of civil rights, religious institutions and labor groups that supported the Maryland DREAM Act. On April 10 we are planning a mass mobilization bringing thousands of people to the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol, and call for passage of CIR. We invite Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service to join as a longstanding partner and friend.

LT: What do you think is the most likely outcome for the current push for comprehensive immigration reform?

SA: Passage within the next year is the only option.  Our nation has to restore the integrity, equity, and effectiveness to our immigration system. Legislation must be passed to create an immigration system that respects the rights of all, protects individuals fleeing persecution, and acknowledges the economic, social, and cultural contributions of immigrants to the United States. The time to reform our laws and strengthen the American traditions of justice and equity is now.

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  1. jack says

    The people did not speak. Voter fraud spoke loud and clear. In this cess pool sanctuary state of corruption anything goes even something like the Dream act which is a nightmare for Md citizens.. But what’s new .. Md citizens are forced into paying $2billion a year to illegal aliens. Not talking about the immigrants of yesteryear either. We pay $1 billion to educate their many children..*they average 5 on our $$*.. Now citizens are forced to subsidize their education and all the liberals are in high fluting mode. Casa de md is responsible for teaching illegals how to scam our systems. How to work cash jobs and they even promote unlawful tactics by connecting employers with illegals for their daily cash jobs. All of it is illegal. They entice employers to “come and get their cheap labor Illegals”. Do they tell the employers it is a felon to hire them? All we see are open borders and our country doomed because of the trillions of our tax $$ to illegals who work our jobs. These are not the immigrants of yesteryear and because of casa de md and other groups who teach these people in their “go for it” schemes.. The immigrants of yesteryear didn’t have welfare and they surely wouldn’t have babies for profit and would never expect citizens to feed, house and clothe them like the today immigrants *aka illegals*.. very few are becoming citizens because its more productive being illegal. Why should they get a legit social security card and pay legit taxes and not work under the table in secrecy?. Thank you Casa for destroying our once beautiful state and to omalley and liberals who force us to pay 47% of casa’s operating costs to a crooked non law biding group…

  2. LCGD says

    The Dream Act is natural . Hopes and dreams are most crucial in the state of mind of an immigrating person or family. An integrated part of the self. How could anyone think that thousands of families are still separated in order to achieve the Dream of belonging , of being accepted , integrating in a welcoming land.
    It is utterly cruel sending back a mother, a father, a brother, a grand mother or a grandfather, a young son or daughter, even a baby…
    America is so lucky to be this popular. No other country has this privilege, treating right those who decide to stay is quite simple , humanity is simple, kindness fairness acceptance, all those concepts are real when strangers who knock at the door are welcome.

    • mark says

      LCGD America is so lucky? We are so lucky that we get to support all of them? Welcome to the land of the free. 1st goal is to have babies to steal our $$, welfare and benefits . *they average 5* then work our jobs. So how lucky are we? What other country immigrants has kids and can’t afford them and rely on others to raise them through college? The citizens of this country has given too much to illegals and we now see it in the high costs of ‘everything”!! What dream is it for taxpayers when we pay over $1billion a year in one small state to educate their children every single year through grades 12 and now your dream act through college is more. You talk about separation of families? What parents have a family they can’t feed and clothe? What parent relies on others to raise them? Certainly not any parent i know. Certainly not our immigrants of yesteryear who came to america and wouldn’t think of having kids until they could afford them. Certainly not our immigrants who treasured our lands not trash them. They had to go through testing of deceases so as to not infect others. They hung the american flag with pride, not burn them. They respected our lands and our rules not break them. Tell me one other country where i can go and be treated so generously while stealing their resources LCGD?

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