Minnesota’s DREAMers in Action

A bill introduced in the the Minnesota Legislature this week would open the door to undocumented students brought to the U.S. as young children so that they could access higher education with in-state tuition and financial aid. HF 875/SF 723, authored by Rep. Carlos Mariani and Sen. Sandy Pappas, is an important step toward giving young immigrants the chance to participate fully in the communities they call home. 

Last week, Latino youth in Owatonna prepared to travel to Washington, D.C. to advocate for immigration policy change at the federal level. Read more about the promise of these young activists in this piece by OAP intern Robert McIntosh. He is working with us as part of a the Communicating with New Media course at Metropolitan State University. See photos from his day Centro Campesino here

Most of the time I wouldn’t expect to be humbled by a group of teenagers. When I think of the kinds of things kids want to spend their free time doing, I certainly do not think of preparing to go to Washington, DC to meet congressional representatives and persuade them to change policies affecting their communities.

That is how I spent Presidents’ Day, in awe of a group of kids at Centro Campesino in Owatonna preparing go to DC. On March 6th and 7th hundreds of leaders from Latino nonprofit and civic organizations from around the country will meet with their Congressional representatives and senators as part of National Council of La Raza’s National Latino Advocacy Days on Capitol Hill. During these meetings advocates will have a chance to present some real solutions to the issues that impact the lives of Hispanic Americans.

The Organizing Apprenticeship Project (OAP) was asked to be part of the training to help prepare the young advocates at Centro Campesino for their trip to DC. These young advocates spent the day discussing race and power and the way in which it shapes their communities. They also looked at legislative advocacy and the things necessary to bring about change. I was surprised by the amount of real world policy changes they discussed and the methodical strategy they used to insure that their voices would be heard.

Part of the reason I was so impressed is because when I was I kid I wasn’t concerned with how legislative policy affects education, immigration, health care, and the like. Nobody talked to me about these issues or cared about my opinion. But here in Minnesota, Centro Campesino is reaching out to youth and I can see the impact it’s making. Seeing a group of young people empowered to actively participate in campaigns is nothing short of amazing. They are working to change society for the better by reaching out to policymakers and sharing their concerns. In the process, they’re changing themselves, becoming the leaders that we need for a promising future.

— Robert McIntosh

 

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