News from The Welcome Project: After weeks of testimony, advocacy and hard work, the youth of the Welcome Project and Centro Presente took a breath to celebrate Thursday night after the Board of Aldermen voted unanimously in favor of a local resolution supporting federal DREAM Act legislation.
Two youth — both Somerville public school students — spoke to the aldermen last night, continuing to make their case.
“I have the desire to give back to this country what this country has given me, stated Gabriel Maldonado, member of The Welcome Project’s youth interpreter training program. “I am here to ask you to support the DREAM Act. This is the only chance I have to reach my goals.”
“The DREAM Act means a lot to me because I am a perfect candidate for it,” Testified Kevin Alegria, youth member of Centro Presente. “I am a dreamer and without the DREAM Act I will not be able to achieve my dreams of going on to college and contributing to my community.”
“We are very inspired by the important work that the Student Immigrant Movement has been doing for many years and we made a decision to support their efforts here in Somerville. We could not be any prouder of the work these youth from Centro Presente and The Welcome Project did running a grassroots effort to engage in the civic life of their hometown,” said Patricia Montes, Executive Director of Centro Presente.
“I was impressed and moved that when the votes were counted, not a single alderman voted against the DREAM Act resolution,” said Warren Goldstein-Gelb, Executive Director of The Welcome Project. “I think our Somerville youth made a compelling argument that every Somerville student, no matter what their national origin or immigration status, should be supported in their dreams to attend college.”
The 11-0 vote of the Board of Aldermen came just a week and three days after an 8-0 vote by the Somerville School Committee to support the resolution.
The Aldermen resolution was introduced more than a month ago by Aldermen Rebekah Gewirtz and Walter Pero, on September 23. The Resolution was sent for further study to the Legislative Matters Committee. Wednesday night, a standing room only meeting of the Committee met, discussed the resolution and heard testimonies once again from the youth on the impact of the DREAM Act on their lives. The majority of meeting attendees were youth.
The Committee approved the resolution and sent it back to the full Board of Aldermen for final discussion and a vote on Thursday night. With the unanimous vote in favor of the resolution, the Board of Aldermen exhibited their belief in the idea that these students represent an investment in the future of Somerville.