By Folabi Olagbaju
Baltimore recently hosted the National Immigrant Integration Conference (NIIC 2012), an event that was both timely and fortuitous considering that in November, Maryland voters will decide whether or not to uphold DREAM Act legislation.
Maryland’s Nov. 6 Dream Act referendum is an opportunity for voters to invest in promising young people by voting “for” on Question 4 to support in-state college tuition for undocumented students. (The question is posed as “for” or “against.)
NIIC 2012 was a good opportunity for me to talk with state leaders about the importance of the referendum. Those conversations mirrored the ones I’ve been having with community organizations and Lutheran churches as part of LIRS’s campaign to raise awareness of the referendum and how the DREAM Act can benefit Maryland. LIRS has been partnering with CASA de Maryland and the Maryland Dream Youth Committee for this campaign.
The four-day NIIC 2012, which wrapped up September 25, brought together over 600 immigrant advocates and leaders from across the country to share strategies and strengthen collaboration.
LIRS had the great honor of hosting a reception for NIIC 2012 on Saturday, September 22. The event at our headquarters featured a welcome from LIRS President and CEO Linda Hartke. Stephen Fotopulos, Executive Director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, spoke about connecting immigrants and refugee rights. The full house of guests was treated to a sneak preview of the landmark PBS documentary “America By The Numbers,” a new work by noted journalist Maria Hinojosa. By examining the case of immigration to Clarkston, Georgia, the documentary depicts how changing demographics are reshaping America’s landscape.
The documentary set a good tone for discussions about the MD DREAM Act, and I left energized to speak with more Lutheran churches and community groups about the upcoming referendum. You can learn more about how that’s going by checking here for weekly updates.
Remember, please vote “for” on Question Four on November 6! If you would like to learn more ways to help, please click here.