Undocumented youth demand the New York DREAM Act

Yesterday, I was part of an action coordinated by the New York State Youth Leadership Council, and undocumented youth-led organization, to demand that Governor Cuomo prioritize the passage of the New York State DREAM Act. The Act would give undocumented young people access to state financial aid, which is crucial to education access in the face of quickly rising tuition costs.

As allies to undocumented youth, Marco Galaviz and I were arrested during a sit-in and banner-drop in front of the Governor’s office. From my statement yesterday:

I am doing this today because I am a reproductive justice activist, and I know that education impacts access to health care. I am doing this today because I am queer, and I know that queer youth of color in New York are disproportionately poor and unable to afford housing, much less the rising costs of higher education. I am doing this today because, as an immigrant who was not eligible for financial aid when I applied for college, I know that most will not have the luck and the privilege that I had when I was still able to access the education that has been integral to my success and happiness.

I can’t emphasize enough the incredible work of the undocumented young people that organized this action – they have been setting a radical agenda and have been unafraid and unapologetic in demanding their basic rights and survival. Being a part of this amazing work along with Marco and the NYSYLC is humbling and an incredible honor. The credit for this action and the demands surrounding it go to them for their tenacity and general fierceness.

I would be remiss if I did not note that the overwhelming majority of the undocumented young people who worked to organize this action are women, many of whom are also queer. As national conversations paint immigration as male, the connections between immigrants’ rights and feminist organizing are quite clear for the immigrant women of the NYSYLC.

If you are in New York State, please give Governor Cuomo a call at 518-474-8390 and tell him to support the NY DREAM Act, and be sure to follow the work of the New York State Youth Leadership Council on Facebook and twitter for updates!

New York, NY

Verónica Bayetti Flores has spent the last years of her life living and breathing reproductive justice. She has led national policy and movement building work on the intersections of immigrants' rights, health care access, young parenthood, and LGBTQ liberation, and has worked to increase access to contraception and abortion, fought for paid sick leave, and demanded access to safe public space for queer youth of color. In 2008 Verónica obtained her Master’s degree in the Sexuality and Health program at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. She loves cooking, making art, listening to music, and thinking about the ways art forms traditionally seen as feminine are valued and devalued. In addition to writing for Feministing, she is currently spending most of her time doing policy work to reduce the harms of LGBTQ youth of color's interactions with the police and making sure abortion care is accessible to all regardless of their income.

Verónica is a queer immigrant writer, activist, and rabble-rouser.

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