Washington, DC—As the nation approaches Fourth of July weekend, NCLR (National Council of La Raza), the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, celebrates Independence Day and the promise of the American Dream for all families.
In the past week, a number of advocates undertook efforts in support of Walter Lara, a student from Florida who graduated from Miami Dade College and was ordered to leave the U.S. by July 6, 2009. Following vigorous appeals from members of Congress and local community supporters, today the Department of Homeland Security decided to defer action on Walter’s removal for a year.
In a statement following the decision, Lara said: “As I look to celebrate Independence Day with family and friends this weekend, I have once again seen what makes America the best country in the world. Americans are fair, just, and kind. When we unite our strength to defend our shared values—opening rather than shutting the doors of opportunity—we can achieve anything. But even as the dust settles on this tremendous personal victory, my sights are clearly set on the struggle ahead to build a long-term future for me and the more than two million like me whose lives may be cut short and dreams deferred. The action taken by the leaders in Congress and the Department of Homeland Security is an acknowledgment that our immigration laws are broken. The ‘[Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors] DREAM Act,’ if passed, would help people like myself, who came here through no fault of their own, stay in this country, be put on a path to citizenship, and contribute to our nation.”
“Walter’s experience and his statement describe what all Americans, including new Americans, feel about our country. The greatness of our nation and the kindness of our people—these characteristics that were present at our country’s founding and have been tested throughout its history—continue to define the United States,” said Janet Murguía, President and CEO of NCLR. “Walter’s case is a powerful reminder of the need to advance solutions to our broken immigration system that are consistent with our country’s fundamental values. We urge our nation’s leaders to reflect on these values as they debate immigration reform in the upcoming months.”