Oakland, CA – More than 480 people packed the basement of St. Jarlath’s Church where youth leaders from OCO organized the biggest Deferred Action education forum event in the Bay Area.  Youth and their families had the opportunity to hear a presentation by Mark Silverman, Immigration Attorney for the Immigrant Legal Resource Center on how immigrant youth qualify for the deferred action announced last month.

“This is an historic moment,” Mark Silverman told the participants at the forum, “It is the first time an immigrant student movement has organized to impact policy at the federal level.”

The presentation was followed up by face to face consultations with attorneys specialized in immigration cases who provided free individual consultations for any case regarding immigration for students and their family members.

The forum was an opportunity for DREAMers to get acquainted with the recent policy change and to examine how they can use their talent to help put the country back on the right track.

“This is an opportunity that we DREAMers were waiting for, it opens a new pathway for us. We will be able to get jobs and pay for our education and books,” said OCO youth leader Vanessa Borja,  ”We will be able to work as professionals and to give back to this country in a major way.”

As part of the next phase of these community forums a strong civic engagement campaign to ensure that deferred action, vital access to higher education and quality schools will be protected.  Dream students will be canvassing, phone banking and getting the vote out in November.

PICO East Bay organizations OCO, BOCA, COR, CCISCO, and SFOP and their allies the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, Centro Legal de la Raza, Mujeres Unidas y Activas, and Street Level Health Outreach worked to make the event a success and are actively working to organize the next event in the near future.  BOCA youth leaders are looking to bring this type of forum to local congregations in Berkeley.