Today was supposed to be my first deportation hearing and overall, quite a stressful week, but it turned into a majorly good one when I came home last night to find a scholarship check in the mailbox from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), for service to the Latin@ community and specifically for being an “exceptional advocate for the DREAM Act.”
The letter was signed by Mr. Thomas Saenz, who I have only met briefly on one occasion but respect tremendously. For a long time, Mr. Saenz was the only leader in the mainstream immigration reform world to champion an LGBT-inclusive immigration reform as well as a standalone DREAM Act. Additionally, MALDEF has a long history of fighting legal battles for immigrant communities, especially undocumented students. They successfully fought and upheld instate-tuition for undocumented students in California, along with engaging in many other fights for immigrants and citizens across the United States.
I cannot deny the privileges associated with this award. A lot of my undocumented activist friends who have given up their day jobs and education to actively organize in their communities need the same kind of financial help. The fact that I have been able to continue my education despite substantial barriers is not a testament to my hard work, but simply a matter of luck and privilege. Essentially, we all need help and I hope other organizations can step up to the plate to provide some semblance of support.
The financial help comes at a time when I am unsure about how to meet law school tuition and cost of living for next semester, so it should help to alleviate the pressure on me tremendously.
For law students interested in serving immigrant communities in some legal capacity, MALDEF is now accepting applications for Summer 2012 Legal Interns for all MALDEF locations. Send a cover letter, resume, and a writing sample to firstname.lastname@example.org.