United We Dream Press Releases 9 Comments

Tonight at the DNC -DREAMer Benita Veliz, first undocumented person to ever speak before a national political convention:

“An Honor to Represent the Lives & Stories of DREAMers”

In Charlotte, NC:
To arrange an interview with Benita Veliz, contact Abby Rea at (214) 998-6732 or c.abigailrea@gmail.com.
To arrange an interview with Gaby Pacheco, political director of the United We Dream Network about the immigrant youth movement, political analysis or policy, contact Rafael Noboa y Rivera at (202) 455-4673.

Pamela Resendiz, member of the United We Dream Network’s National Coordinating Committee from Texas, and friend of Benita Veliz, issued the following statement as DREAMer Benita Veliz prepares to share her story tonight with America at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

Tonight, at the Democratic National Convention, Benita Veliz will make history.
“It is an honor to represent the lives and stories of dreamers all across America as I address the nation tonight on an issue that is beyond political but about who we are as a Nation,” says Benita.

Benita, a tireless advocate for the DREAM Act, will speak to the convention — and through them, the nation. She will share her story with America, and commend the Administration for establishing a process by which over a million immigrant youth can earn a work permit and receive protection from deportation, commonly known as “deferred action for childhood arrivals” (DACA).

In her speech, Benita will then say that we need to continue to fight for reform– like the DREAM Act. At the United We DREAM Network, we agree, and we believe that more must be done to ensure that DREAMers are treated with dignity and fairness especially because some states, like our home state of Texas, are balking at granting licenses to DACA beneficiaries.

This is why undocumented youth — like Benita, myself and countless others — led a fearless campaign for the DREAM Act which resulted in House passage of the DREAM Act and coming just 5 votes short of overcoming a Republican Senate filibuster. Undocumented youth also led a years’ long campaign to stop the deportations of DREAMers, which resulted in the policy change announced by President Obama in June and recognized by Benita tonight.

Benita graduated from high school two years early. She was a National Merit Scholar, and graduated from St. Mary’s University in 2009 on a full merit scholarship. But a tiny mistake made while driving nearly derailed her life. She failed to come to a complete stop at a stop sign, so a police officer stopped her. When the state discovered that she was undocumented, the deportation process began.
But Benita wasn’t deported due to the tireless efforts of people all across the nation who organized and signed her petition, through the Education Not Deportation Campaign of UWD. But it should never have come to this. That’s why she, and millions of other immigrant youth are advocating for an indelible solution which would allow undocumented Americans to fully utilize our education and talents to contribute to the only place we call home.

Tonight, I know Benita will inspire others because she’s already done that for me. Benita was the first DREAMer I met while going to school in San Antonio. In fact, seeing her on Univision Network’s ‘Al Punto’ show taking about her story inspired me to come out as undocumented. Now, 2 years later Benny is making history by speaking at the DNC as an undocumented American representing the voices and work DREAMers across the nation. I hope her words yet again encourage other undocumented DREAM act eligible youth to come out of the shadows, apply for deferred action under the new policy announced by the President, advocate for the DREAM Act. And I hope that Benita’s example will inspire everyone in the Latino, Asian and immigrant communities to participate in the civil life of this country and make a difference.

DREAMers have shown that progress can be made when we come together, organize and build the political power we need to win. Together, we won the new deferred action policy and together we can win a permanent victory for our entire community.


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