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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Justice for Students in America and the MD DREAM Act

A presentation I recently heard from a group of young activists with Justice for Students in America (@thejsamovement on twitter) was one of the most powerful ten minutes of dialogue about politics I ever witnessed.  These students, each of them undocumented, described their struggles as high achieving young people who wanted to go to college and could have that door closed to them if the DREAM Act does not pass.


The MD DREAM Act, to remind those who aren't familiar, allows undocumented students who are succeeding in public school in Maryland to attend college here without having to pay out-of-state tuition, which would be prohibitively expensive for many.  A referendum on the Act will be on the ballot in November.


The JSA movement, which I know is involved in educating voters on the issue, looks similar to me in many ways to the kind of youth movement I saw three years ago when I served as President Obama’s National Youth Vote Director. I think about those high school students in Iowa who spent every weeknight and every Saturday and Sunday in a campaign office, going out knocking on doors, making phone calls, talking to their friends, wearing t-shirts, wearing buttons, making the idea of getting involved in President Obama’s campaign to change the world – a cause. A true cause for young people in that state; and when the young people in that state won, the President won.


I would love to see Justice for Students in America chapters getting organized on the high school campuses all around Maryland, and I believe that JSA is working on that goal.


This Dream Act campaign is about education and the values that the younger generation is bringing to our country today. It would not really be possible to have a chance for victory if the demographics of our country were not changing so rapidly and our community's values changing right along with them.