Laura, the mother of a little girl, is working toward a degree in human services. She has lived in the United States since she was two years old, but as an undocumented immigrant, she’s ineligible for government financial aid, including loans. She makes her tuition payments in cash.
She says she “couldn’t believe it” when she heard the news about Deferred Action.
The new program announced by the Obama administration in June allows undocumented immigrant youth—Dreamers—to live in the United States without fear of deportation for the next two years and to obtain work permits on a renewable basis as long as they meet certain criteria.
For Laura, Deferred Action means she can take a job in human services, her field of study.
“I’m very happy that we’ve been given this opportunity to show our potential and that we belong here,” Laura says. “I don’t know what I would do if I had to go back; I’d be lost.”
She was among 80 immigrants who came to a legal clinic in Des Moines, where AFSC and Justice for Our Neighbors, aided by 30 volunteers, provided assistance in applying for the program. (See photos from the clinic.)
“I think Deferred Action is lot better for the country,” says high school student Jose, who also attended the clinic. He’s lived in the United States since the fourth grade.
Today, he plays on his school’s football team and is an aspiring engineer.
“There are a lot of kids like me who just want an education, to go to college and have a good future,” he says.
Deferred Action falls far short of providing a pathway to citizenship, which AFSC and others will continue working toward. But the program represents a significant step forward for Laura, Jose, and thousands of young people brought to the United States by their parents.
Want to get involved? See our resources for immigrant allies.
Hector is a Dreamer and a volunteer with AFSC Iowa's Immigrants Voice Program. Here he describes what Deferred Action means for him and why volunteering is so important for developing leadership in the Latino community.
Read more about the West Virginia Future Fund here.
West Virginia is a state with vast natural resources—timber, oil, gas, and, most famously, coal. Those non-renewable resources are quickly disappearing and, with them, the hope for West Virginia's future unless we create a Future Fund—a mineral trust fund—to meet the challenges of tomorrow.
Since the 1880s, much of West Virginia's wealth has left the state in railcars and trucks.
The local businesses that lined the main streets of Logan and Welch as late as the 1970s are gone, replaced by empty storefronts and broken dreams. More coal has been mined in McDowell County than any other county in West Virginia. Yet today, McDowell County is one of the ten poorest counties in the United States in terms of per capita income, education levels of its citizens and the quality of their health and well being.
Today our state stands on the cusp of a natural gas boom as drilling has begun in the Marcellus Shale. Like coal in the last century, the gas industry is susceptible to booms and busts. This economic uncertainty can be addressed if we create a Future Fund by setting aside a portion of natural resource severance taxes.
We can't go back and restore to McDowell or Logan counties a portion of the wealth that has left West Virginia. But we have the opportunity to do better for tomorrow's West Virginians by ensuring that future generations will continue to benefit from our state's natural wealth.
Video by AFSC intern Adrienne Miranda and AFSC staff Bryan Vana
The Appalachian Center for Equality is dedicated to creating opportunities for young people to pursue their goals and a productive future by working and learning together. We accomplish this through interpersonal skill-building, college trips, and community engagement projects with the belief that together we can make our communities in southern West Virginia stronger and more vibrant for everyone.
Video by AFSC intern Adrienne Miranda
Read more about ACE: Appalachian Center for Equality Expanding Its Impact
In the summer of 1967, Carolyn McCoy was 12 years old and visiting Japan with her family. On Aug. 6, they visited Hiroshima, where they took part in memorial activities marking the 22nd anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city.
This digital story—created last month in an AFSC-led workshop at the Friends General Conference gathering—tells how the experience changed her life.
At the FGC gathering this summer, AFSC’s Lori Fernald Khamala, Project Voice Program Director in North Carolina, and Tony Heriza, Director of Educational Outreach, led a digital storytelling workshop called “Using Technology to Tell Stories of Spirit and Struggle,” in which an intergenerational group of participants created short videos about their spiritual journeys and political concerns. Carolyn’s story is the first to be shared online. Others will follow.
The American Friends Service Committee's Joseph Gerson discusses China's Rise at the March 13, 2012 Challenging the Pivot event in Cambridge, MA.
American Friends Service Committee's Jason Tower at March 13, 2012 Challenging the Pivot event, Cambridge, MA.
AFSC's West Virginia Economic Justice Project (WVEJ) works statewide on issues affecting low income and working families.
The project helps people get the best possible deal from the current system, engages in campaigns to gain or defend economic rights for workers and low income families, helps build effective coalition in support of economic justice for all people.
Direction and Camera by Hasibullah Asmati
Editing by Hamed Alizada
Sound and Additional Camera by Zarah Sadat
After the refugees returned, post-Taliban, there was no girl’s school in the village. Waseema took things into her own hands, organizing the women, pressuring the resistant men, and setting up ‘classrooms’ in an abandoned, roofless, building on the outskirts of the village. The sounds of the girls calling out their lessons doesn’t disturb anyone - except for those who won’t follow their Mullah’s advice and allow their daughters and sisters to attend.
Hasibullah Asmati’s family is from Takhar and he lives in Kabul. He worked as a production assistant on the documentary Addicted in Afghanistan, and as a freelance production assistant with the Takhar province TV channel. Hasib is currently working with Community Supported Film to make Brewing Tea in a Kettle of War, which will look at best practices in economic and social development from the perspective of Afghan villagers. Hasib is in Takhar province to capture one village’s attempt to come to terms with the cyclical terror of flashfloods and drought.