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Public Policy Polling has an interesting poll out on Vermont that brings home once again how absurd the anti-gay marriage crusaders are (and will be viewed in a few decades when all of the states finally get around to making gay marriage a right). 

This is from the post:

“Gay marriage has been legal in Vermont for almost 2 years now and most voters in the state say it’s had no impact on their lives. 60% say it’s been a non factor for them personally to 22% who say it’d had a positive effect on them and 18% who say it’s had a negative one. Read More

The tornadoes that devastated so much of the region hit Shaw University in downtown Raleigh hard. The 145-year old college closed its doors for the semester due to the widespread damage across campus.

Shaw University founded in 1865

Shaw, which is the oldest black college in the South, played a pivotal role in the civil rights movement. Fifty one years ago last Friday April 15th, Ella Baker persuaded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to invite university students to the Youth Leadership Conference at Shaw on Easter weekend. At this conference, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was born and history was in the making. Read More

Felipe Matos is among the top 20 community college students in America, but he’s ineligible for financial aid at the top universities that have accepted him. Gaby Pacheco has three education degrees and plans to use music therapy as a teaching tool for autistic children and adults. Brought to the United States at age 2, Carlos Roa wanted to join the military but could not because of his immigration status.

Three months ago, they embarked on Trail of Dreams, a 1,500 mile walk from Miami to Washington.  These students are facing much more than sore feet; several are undocumented, and they risk deportation and detention to share their stories and raise awareness about the need for just immigration reform.

These students exemplify why support is growing for the DREAM Act, federal legislation that would enable students brought to the U.S. at a young age to legally access higher education and financial aid. Every year, 65,000 students graduate U.S. high schools but are denied a college education because of our broken and unjust immigration system.  These students include valedictorians, class presidents and community leaders.  Yet they are refused the opportunity to further their education and give back to America — the country they see as their home.

Just graduating high school can be more challenging for undocumented students than for their peers; they often must learn English as a second language, take care of family responsibilities that their parents cannot manage without understanding English, overcome low socio-economic status and all that that entails, and cope with the psychological trauma of living in fear of deportation.

Trail of Dreams, which made its way through the Triangle last week, is a journey of hope for these students and the 12 million undocumented migrants in the United States.

For more information, check out the Southern Coalition for Social Justice’s Statement of Support.

For Edwin Aly Ramirez of Greensboro, his first thought after being arrested on immigration charges was that he would never see his wife and three children again.  Mr. Ramirez was asked about his status and arrested after he had gone to court to help translate for a friend.  ”I thought I would never get to meet my newborn,” he said.

That is the fear — and the daily reality — of 12 million people living in this country.  They work in your office, clean your house, go to your school, and tomorrow, they might be gone.

Undocumented immigrants do not have the same right to due process and a fair trial afforded U.S. citizens.  If immigrants cannot post bond immediately after entering Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody, it can dramatically affect their case.  Detainees are often accelerated into deportation proceedings, which are difficult to contest because they  do not have the right to an attorney if they cannot afford one, face language barriers, and lack access to the documents they need to build their case while in custody.

The Southern Coalition for Social Justice partnered with the National Immigrant Bond Fund to combat this injustice and pursue dignity and due process for immigrants.

Since September, SCSJ has used the Bond Fund to help seven families, including Edwin’s, by providing zero interest matching loans to immigrants who cannot afford to pay full bond.  The Fund may play only a small role in the overall fight for human rights, but it has a dramatic and tangible impact on immigrant families.

“When immigrants are detained without being able to pay their bond, they are denied the ability to fully defend their right to stay in this country, which often unjustly results in their being deported without being able to see their families or tie up outstanding obligations,” said SCSJ staff attorney Marty Rosenbluth.

Edwin chokes up when he recalls his relief at seeing his three children after being released on bond. “I just want them to have a good life; a good education.”

For more information check out SCSJ’swebsite.

Yesterday Public Policy Polling released a new statewide poll that proves once again the vast majority of North Carolinians want the legislature to pass the School Violence Prevention Act, a bill that would make our schools safer with anti-bullying policies that have been proven to make a difference.

Controversy has erupted over the bill’s listing of categories of students frequently targeted for bullying, including sexual orientation and gender identity.

Why is that language there? Because we know that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students–and others who are just perceived to be LGBT–are among the most frequent victims of bullying and harassment, yet teachers and principals don’t consistently intervene to protect them.  Research has shown that policies that spell out that protecting all students really means all students, including minority students, make students safer.

Now this poll shows that most North Carolinians agree: 69% support the bill with sexual orientation included. That includes a majority of every single demographic: Democrat and Republican, East and West, black and white.

An amazing, broad coalition of groups representing parents, teachers, students and minority communities, Prevent School Violence NC, has emerged to support this bill.

The question is this: Will the legislature act this year to make schools safer? Or will they once again hand victory to a small but loud group of people who dislike gay people enough that they’re willing to risk children’s safety?