For Immediate Release
Contact: Bruna Bouhid | firstname.lastname@example.org | 202.850.0812
Miami, FL – Today, immigrant youth, families and allies from across the country arrived in Miami for the largest bi-annual gathering of undocumented youth organized by United We Dream (UWD).
With electric chants of “Here to Stay!” and “Undocumented and Unafraid!” Executive Director and Co-founder Cristina Jimenez, National Field Director Eli Cuna, and Florida Organizer Maria Asuncion-Bilbao welcomed over 1,500 participants from 31 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. to the three-day weekend of movement building and strategizing.
“Ten years ago, 40 of us gathered in Minnesota for our first gathering,” said Cristina. “This was a group of undocumented young people who dreamed of creating a national network where we could come together and fight for protection and dignity for our community. We never thought we would be in a room as big and beautiful as this one. Today, we celebrate ten years of empowerment!”
During an especially moving moment, UWD Co-founder Jose Luis Marantes shared the stage with Dennis Rivera, UWD youth leader in Houston, Texas. Marantes told the story of the first time UWD stopped the deportation of a young woman by staging a classroom outside a detention center shouting, “Education, Not Deportation!” Dennis shared how immigrant youth in his community and teachers took similar action to get him out of detention just a few months ago.
“I faced discrimination. I tried to speak up, but instead I got sent to jail and because they collaborate with ICE, I was sent to a detention camp. But I realized people cared for me: my teachers, students, United We Dream. I’m grateful for them,” said Dennis.
Prayer, poetry, and special performances by Intrinsic Roots, Houston Cyprus, Yoli Mayor, Yaya & Prophet, Indian RAGA, WeCount Youth Poets, Elastic Bond kept people on their feet throughout the opening ceremony.
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United We Dream is the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the nation, a powerful network made up of over 500,000 members, five branches with over 100 affiliate organizations across 28 states. UWD’s vision is to build a multi-racial, multi-ethnic movement of young people who organize and advocate at the local and national levels for the dignity and justice of immigrants and communities of color in the United States. You can find more about UWD online at www.unitedwedream.org.