Gustavo Torres, Executive Director
In this special edition of CASA’s La Voz del Barrio I want to share all the exciting progress on CASA’s campaign for common sense immigration reform. This summer has been a whirlwind of activity and victories with the Senate voting 68-32 in favor of S.744 granting a conditional path to citizenship for millions. Leading up to this historic vote CASA de Maryland and our sister organization CASA in Action organized a series of Rapid Response Actions on Capitol Hill kicking off with a rally on April 10th when over 100,000 immigration reform supporters decried that the “TIME IS NOW” on the steps of the Capitol. Over the last four months we participated in over 30 actions mobilizing over 800 of our members but the fight is not over. Currently the fate of immigration reform rests in the hands of Republican Congressmen who are hesitant to take action. As it happened time and time again the inaction of a few can derail even great momentums, but we won’t let that happen this year. We have grown stronger since 2006, the last elections showed our strength at the polls. So I say to those who stand in the way to “Remember November” and give us a vote for citizenship! Thank you,
Victory in Annapolis
The Maryland Highway Safety Act of 2013 The extraordinary victory of last year’s ballot question # 4, The DREAM Act set the background for what was an enormously successful legislative session for Maryland. Once again, our state has proven to be a national leader in equipping all residents with the means to live healthy and productive lives and integrate all members of our communities into the strong fabric that holds our state together.
ciary soon followed with a hearing with little opposition. Like always, CASA members took to the halls of Annapolis and the Committee Rooms to show their support for the bills. With the assistance of CASA’s Community Organizing Department during the session over 100 CASA members came to Annapolis to meet with their elected officials, share their stories, preform outreach and secure votes.
The Maryland Highway Safety Act of 2013 was introduced and championed by Senate Sponsor Victor Ramirez and House Sponsor Jolene Ivey. The bills quickly built momentum during the opening weeks of the 2013 legislative session. With assistance of CASA de Maryland and our allies the Senate Bill was able to collect 14 additional cosponsors and the House Bill was able to confirm 59 additional co-sponsors. There was a broad level of support from many members of the Maryland General Assembly.
“I am a mother of two children. I was a victim of domestic violence, but thanks to God and the support from my neighbors and community, I was able to escape this violent situation with my two children. But the fact of not being able to access a driver's license created an additional obstacle-above all other obstacles that a victim of domestic abuse faces. Thankfully to God… This made it possible for me to obtain a Maryland driver's license...”
The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee was the first chamber to hold a public hearing on the Bill. Amazingly, there was no opposition to the Bill. The House Judi-
Jennifer, Domestic Violence Survivor and CASA Member,
Deferred Action for Our Students CASA assists 1,500 young people in finding immigration relief One year ago, President Obama announced that young people brought to the U.S. as children would be eligible for temporary immigration relief under a program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. Young immigrants between the ages of 15—30 would now have the chance to obtain legal status and a work permit for a renewable period of two years, provided they meet certain requirements like graduating from high school or serving in the military In August, CASA launched a major initiative to assist young people in applying for the DACA program. Since then, CASA has held over 40 clinics across Maryland, providing one-on-one assistance to hundreds of eligible young people in gathering the necessary documentation and completing their applications. To date, CASA has helped approximately 1,500 young people to submit their DACA applications to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services department. We’re thrilled to say that 100% of these applications have been approved so far. This makes CASA’s DACA assistance program the largest and most
successful in Maryland! More than 350 volunteers have worked sideby-side with CASA to help young immigrants through the application process. Their support has been a big reason the program has been able to reach so many in just one year. Claudia, 18, who was among the first to receive DACA assistance, said “I remember that years ago, I used to cry out of frustration—I was being hindered by my undocumented status. DACA had provided me with immense opportunities. Now, I can attend college and finally be able to drive.” For these bright and hardworking young people affected, the DACA program is only a first step toward achieving the dream of citizenship. In order for young immigrants to fully participate in our society, congress must pass comprehensive immigration reform with a clear pathway for our 11 million aspiring citizens. But until then, CASA will continue to provide immigration assistance to those eligible wherever possible. To find out more, visit www.casademaryland.org/deferredaction. If you would like to volunteer with the program, send an email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call: (240) 491-5767.