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NYIC DREAM Fellow gives testimony at NYC City Council

The NYIC is so proud of one of our Spring 2012 DREAM Fellows and NYIC education intern, Max Ahmed, who presented testimony to the City Council's joint hearing of the Education and Immigration Committees on Thursday, September 27th! Check out his testimony below!

September 27, 2012
City Council Testimony
Testimony by Max Ahmed on behalf of the New York Immigration Coalition for New York City Council’s Joint Hearing of the Education and Immigration Committees

Good Afternoon. My name is Mubashar Ahmed. Max if you will. I testify before you today representing the New York Immigration Coalition and those who have come to be known as Dreamers, a population now eligible to apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. My Story, my journey into New York begins as an 11 year old boy who had left his home country abruptly. My father had chosen to uproot the entire family to seek medical treatment for his daughter, my older sister Aleeza, which he could not obtain in our home country. Disabled, my sister has been able to thrive here and graduate from high school, thanks to initiatives for the disabled which would not have been available to us back east. As for me, I am a student at the City College of New York. I will be graduating this December with a Bachelor in Chemical Engineering. As part of my development, I served as a Dream Fellow at the New York Immigration Coalition last spring, where I worked in our education program and the Family Resource Center initiative, which the City Council helped make possible. So thank you!

DACA represents a historic moment—the first positive federal immigration policy affecting such a large number of individuals we’ve seen in a long time. The president implemented this policy in large measure to respond to the pressure the NYIC and our allies across the city, state, and nation put on the White House to do something to reverse the damage done by harsh immigration policies and by Congress’s failure to act. Thank you to the many city council members who played a crucial role in the NYIC’s Stroke of a Pen campaign—it made a difference, and DACA is here as evidence of that success.

My story, according to the Department of City Planning, is just one of 70,000 residing right here in New York City who are eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Of these, some 9,500 are in college or have a college degree. 13,000 are between the ages of 15 to 21 and are in high school. An additional 21,000 are in NYC schools, under age 15, and will become eligible in the years ahead. An estimated sixteen and a half thousand NYC residents between 21 and 30 who have obtained a high school diploma or GED, but did not get the opportunity to go to college like I did are also eligible. And there are still another 12 thousand who never had the opportunity to finish high school or never enrolled in school or a GED program, but could be eligible for DACA if they return to school. Many are raising families and working below the minimum wage. DACA represents a real opportunity for young people in New York City to reach their educational potential, move out of the underground economy, and enjoy social and economic mobility that will contribute to the greater good. The young people will benefit, and the city will benefit.

And I’m here today because I’m reminded by First Lady Michelle Obama, that when you walk through that doorway of opportunity, you don’t slam it behind you. You reach back. I’m asking your support in helping reach as many DACA eligible New Yorkers as possible.

  • We need to get information out, so that people know to apply and, for those out of school, so they know of the incentive to return to school.
  • We need additional support for educational programs that are already at or beyond capacity, so there are seats for this new DACA population.
  • And we need additional legal support. While grateful that the City Council has made IOI funding available for DACA services, it only meets a fraction of the need, and it’s crucial that we prevent scam artists from stepping into the gap.

Through DACA, we have made a real step toward the goals we have called for nationally. The time for New York City to act is now. DREAMers here in New York are counting on us to make sure their dreams don’t have to wait any longer. As I’ve mentioned, I will be graduating as a chemical engineer this December. I hope to work in the oil industry working on improving our production processes. As I share this with people of other disciplines, I am often asked what does an Engineer do? Their perception of an engineer is of someone who works in a factory with a big chimney with smoke coming out. So my answer often startles them. An engineer is someone who is trained through the 4 or 5 years in college to accomplish only one task. An Engineer is someone with an ability to solve a problem. As I look to this room, what I see are political engineers who have worked hard at solving problems so that this city is able to rise above all other cities. In doing so, you have paved the road for an entire society of engineers to rise and take on the problems of the nation and the world.

So on behalf of 70,000 New York City Dreamer’s, and The New York Immigration Coalition, an umbrella organization of almost 200 organizations, I give you my deepest regards and thanks, and look forward to working with you in the months ahead.

 

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