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Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema calls for action on student loans – July 11, 2013

Congress has missed its deadline to stop student loan interest rates from doubling, and now it’s crunch time. On July 1st, because of inaction in Congress, student loan interest rates doubled from 3.4% to 6.8%. Instead of keeping student interest rates low, Congress is forcing students to pay down Congress’s debt. Now students will be getting a bill for years of bad policy decisions. That’s just wrong.

The fight to keep college affordable isn’t over. We still have a chance to fix this, but Congress needs to hear from you.
  
Send an email to Congress today telling them to keep student loans affordable.

I’m asking you to do what Young Democrats do best: organize.  Let’s team up to let Congress know who you are and how Congress’s bad decisions are affecting you.

In my community, 
students used social media to send their stories with me to Congress.  I’m asking you to do the same. Share your stories about college debt and let Congress know how you’d like to keep college affordable.  We’re using #DropThatDebt to collect stories to share with Congress.

As a teacher at Arizona State University, I often ask my students what they look forward to after graduation. They tell me that they just want a fair shot. They want to know that their hard work in college mattered, that it led to the promise that their parents made to them when they were little: if you work hard and play by the rules, you will succeed. Essentially, they want what generations before them have been promised — they want a shot at the American Dream.
  
Take a moment to tell Congress that immediate action is needed on student loans

When my students tell me that they’re working hard, playing by the rules and doing everything they can to live that dream — they’ve done their part.

Let’s remind Congress that it’s time for them to do their part.

-Kyrsten

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Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema
Arizona’s 9th District

Young Democrats Celebrate Puerto Rico Statehood Win – November 7, 2012

YDA calls statehood victory “historic” and “long overdue.”

(November 7th, 2012) The Young Democrats of America celebrated the clear mandate delivered by the people of Puerto Rico in favor of statehood for the island.

YDA Executive Vice President, Colmon Elridge, expressed the importance of this landmark in the political history of the United States: “It is with great pride that I congratulate the people of Puerto Rico for supporting and achieving a clear and irrefutable victory in favor full equality through statehood for the four million American citizens of Puerto Rico. The people of Puerto Rico have been disenfranchised from the political decision making process of our nation for more than a century, where they are unable to vote for the President of the United States and lack proportional and voting congressional representation despite of being proud American citizens. Last night, for the first time in history, the people of Puerto Rico let themselves be heard and delivered an overwhelming mandate with over 62%  in favor of statehood, thus rejecting the island’s current territorial political relationship with the United States. It is now time for the White House to lead Congress into  acting. YDA will play a major role to ensure that those results are implemented and Puerto Rico becomes the 51st state of our nation. The people of Puerto Rico have spoken and the YDA family joins today in the celebration that our nation is one step closer to having our 51st state. After the celebration has subsided however, we must continue to dedicate ourselves to the reality that while the road ahead is hard, statehood is an idea whose time has been long overdue. As young leaders in our nation, we are committed to building a bi-partisan coalition of our generation who will work together and work within our congressional and state delegations to make this long dream and reality.”

YDA Hispanic Caucus Chairman Phillip Arroyo stated: “This moment in Puerto Rico’s history reminds me of the success achieved during the civil rights movement of the 1960’s as a result of the efforts of Martin Luther King Jr., President John F. Kennedy, and Robert Kennedy to make sure that every American citizen be treated equal. Puerto Ricans have been treated as second class citizens for far too long and it is now time for Congress to act accordingly to make sure the clear mandate delivered by the people of Puerto Rico is respected. In addition, we are confident our re-elected President Barack Obama will make good on his word when he promised to set forth a process to implement the will of the people of Puerto Rico on its political status preference the day they sent a clear message to that effect. The people of Puerto Rico spoke loud and clear on the evening of November 6th, 2012 and we are certain our President will now act.’’

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If you’d like more information or would like to schedule an interview with either Mr. Arroyo or Ms. Garcia, please call Emily Sussman, YDA Executive Director, at 212-877-6464 or email at [email protected]

Young Democrats of America Condemn Richard Murdock’s Comments – October 25, 2012

The Young Democrats of America (YDA) are appalled by Indiana GOP Senate candidate Richard Mourdock’s statement that “…even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape that it is something that God intended to happen.”

Today, YDA Women’s Caucus Chair, Jillian Cardillo responded: “Women facing unwanted pregnancies — especially those resulting from rape — should always be able to chose whether they will carry the pregnancy to term. The U.S. Senate or the Justices they confirm should never be in the position to make that intensely personal decision for women. Mourdock is entitled to his own religious beliefs, he is not entitled to force others to follow them.”

Tea Party favorite, Richard Mourdock is far from alone in this extreme position. With Republicans in states around the country making outrageous statements about women’s reproductive health and rights — it’s abundantly clear just what is at stake in this election. Today’s Republicans offer women no choice with no exceptions — even when being forced to carry that unwanted pregnancy to term could inflict serious psychological harm.

“Mr. Mourdock’s statement is truly shocking. To imagine that the person who spoke it could soon vote to confirm judicial nominees ought to spur every Democrat into action to defeat him.” said Richard Fowler, chair of YDA’s Policy and Advocacy Committee. “Mitt Romney may have distanced himself from Mourdock’s statement today, but the ad he cut in support of Mourdock’s candidacy continues to air in millions of homes across the Hoosier State.”

The Young Democrats of America call on Governor Romney to immediately pull the ad he cut in support of Mr. Mourdock from the airwaves, and apologize to the people of the State of Indiana for his support of this candidate. We also call on him to take on the most extreme elements of his party, including his own running mate Rep. Paul Ryan, and clearly denounce ongoing attempts to redefine rape and take away women’s rights.

The Young Democrats of America encourages all young people to stand-up against these extreme Tea Party politicians and stand with candidates that will work on moving our country forward.

Wisconsin Judge Strikes Down Law Stripping Public Sector Workers of Collective Bargaining Rights – September 16, 2012

Today was a great day to be a union member. A Wisconsin Circuit Judge struck down the main portions of Act 10, the law which stripped public sector workers in the state of the right to collectively bargain. This was the hallmark accomplishment of Governor Scott Walker. It also was the first in a series of direct attacks by on labor unions by GOP Governors since the beginning of 2011. The timing of this was no coincidence.

You see, it wasn’t enough that the Citizens United decision allowed unlimited campaign contributions to be donated to GOP Super PACs without reporting from whence the money came. They had to further tilt the scales in their favor by crippling the biggest source of campaign money for the Democratic Party: organized labor. That’s where laws to restrict or prohibit collective bargaining, which is the right of a large group of union members to have their contracts negotiated together rather than each member individually, come into focus. Little to no collective bargaining means weaker unions, which means less money going to union friendly candidates, which are generally Democrats.

Well this afternoon,Well this afternoon, Dane County Judge Juan Colas ruled that the law was unconstitutional, both AT THE STATE AND FEDERAL LEVEL. Judge Colas has already been branded an “activist liberal judge” by Walker spokespeople, and although I cannot speak for his honor, I would wear that label as a badge of honor. Also, this decision was not out of the blue. It was the result of a joint lawsuit brought by Madison school teachers and municipal workers from the city of Milwaukee. The plaintiffs were suing because they believe in the fundamental right of unions to collectively bargain contracts for their members.

Yet again, we see these unambiguous attempts by Tea Party, Koch-funded legislators to forever keep Republicans in control at every level of government. They have tried many tactics, from breaking unions to unlimited campaign contributions to passing restrictive Voter ID laws. However, like the Senate Bill 5/Issue 2 campaign in Ohio, they have failed. Yes, Governor Walker won his recall election, but because of those efforts, the Democrats now control the Wisconsin State Senate and can halt the right wing, anti-union, anti-middle class agenda in its tracks.

Last week, I saw first hand what party will be there for labor unions. From labor leader speakers like AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka and United Auto Workers’ Bob King to highlighting how the President helped save the American Auto Industry and passed health care reform and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. I proudly stand in solidarity with my union brothers and sisters this fall to cast my vote for President Barack Obama and other Democratic candidates who stand for the working men and women of America.

Mike Corbett

YDA Vice President

Teamsters Local 814

Medicare: A Safety Net for All of Us (Not Just Senior Citizens) – September 12, 2012

Mitt Romney’s selection of Congressman Paul Ryan for Vice President should make every young American question their future security. Medicare and Social Security will become an integral part of our own financial safety net and shouldn’t be just talking points for seniors.

Labeling these programs as entitlement programs is a misnomer. Since our first days as a waitress, movie theatre worker, retail store clerk or any other first day of paid work, we have been paying into Social Security and Medicare. In fact, we all get annual statements on the exact amount of money we have paid into Social Security, projecting our future benefits once once we become eligible.

To better understand why we all need to care about the health of Medicare, I will share my family’s story.

Monday, November 2, 2009 started as just another Monday. Being the day before the big Seattle Mayoral Election Day was as special as it got. I made my regular stop at Starbucks and as I was walking out to the street, I got a call from my mother that changed everything.

The neurologist had just diagnosed my father with Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD). It was just 11 days before his 53rd birthday but my father’s brain MRI looked like someone in his late 80s to early 90s. There were even areas of my father’s brain that had no neural tissue at all. Thankfully, my family was not subjected to years of misdiagnosis as the result of the rarity of FTD.

FTD degenerates neural tissue much like Alzheimer’s but rather than affecting the memory areas of the brain it affects executive functions (social skills, personality, ability to understand consequences, ability to process emotions, etc).  Basically, my father will always remember I am his daughter, but he will lose the ability to love me as his daughter.

Few specifics have been released from the Romney/Ryan campaign but one thing is clear – Medicare would become a voucher program and allow an individual to find their own insurance plan.  Sounds great except for the fact that Medicare is guaranteed coverage – no health exams required to determine if someone is insurable you just pay a small monthly premium and you’re covered.

Under the Romney-Ryan plan, my father is too young to have access to the current system, he’d be given a voucher to go purchase his own insurance. Problem is, there wouldn’t be any insurance in the world that would find my father insurable. Without insurance, the cost of his health care and prescriptions would be enough to bankrupt my family. Even if we were lucky enough to find a company willing to provide coverage, it would be so expensive that it wouldn’t be fully covered by the Romney voucher and any cost above the voucher value would need to be paid for by my family.

For over 30 years, my father was a UAW laborer at Caterpillar. Shortly after his diagnosis he was able to retire with a pension and qualified for the retiree health insurance and prescription plan with a monthly premium through Caterpillar. He also had invested significantly in his 401k plan.

Soon after his diagnosis my father needed to have someone to help care for him, and recently our family decided it was best to place him in a full time care facility. However, that care costs roughly $5,000 per month and isn’t covered by any insurance. There isn’t a cure for FTD but there are medications that my father can take that his physicians hope slow the progression.  Without insurance these medications, even the generics, would cost nearly $1,000 per month.

Even with all his financial planning for retirement there was still a great deal of waiting. Social Security Disability had a 6-month waiting period, even though the progression of the disease doesn’t wait. In addition, since my father is under 65, there is a 2-year waiting period to be eligible for Medicare and because both my parents are union workers with family wage jobs the household income was too much to qualify for Medicaid.

Thankfully, because of the current safety net of Social Security and Medicare combined with my father’s retiree benefits and his 401k, my family can, for the moment, afford to give him top-notch care.

Our future healthcare should provide for all of us to have high quality care at the lowest cost possible.

President Obama’s work to pass the Affordable Care Act to reform the healthcare industry allows all families the opportunity to choose quality health care and those that need the help of the social safety net have it.

Mitt Romney’s plan would force many families – including my own – to pick the care for our loved ones based on costs not quality. That’s not a choice any hardworking American family should be forced to make.

Pundits and even the candidates themselves are calling this election a ‘Choice Election’. This isn’t a difficult choice for me. Supporting President Obama means my family can choose the best possible care. Supporting Mitt Romney means my family would face serious financial trouble to provide even basic care.

Kelly Drake lives in Seattle, WA, and has a graduate degree in Public Health.  She currently serves as YDA National Convention & Meetings Director.

Young Hispanics Celebrate Mayor Castro’s Keynote Speech – September 5, 2012
YDA Hispanic Caucus labels speech as “historic” and “An Inspiration to Young Latinos across the nation.”

The Young Democrats of America Hispanic Caucus celebrated and commended San Antonio, Texas Mayor Julian Castro shortly after delivering his keynote speech at the 2012 Democratic Convention, a speech witnessed by thousands in Charlotte and millions across America.

YDA Hispanic Caucus Chairman, Phillip Arroyo, excitedly expressed the importance of the landmark moment in the political history of the United States:

“It was such an awe inspiring moment to witness San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, the first Latino to ever deliver a keynote address at a Democratic convention. This moment will forever remain in the memories of the current and next generation of young Hispanic leaders who will without a doubt hold it as a source of inspiration in moving forward in our fight for immigration reform and motivating young Latinos to enter public service. Somewhere out there, there is a young latino or latina that was touched and inspired by Mayor Castro’s speech tonight, which could have very well motivated him or her to become the first Latino President of the United State in the near future. The Hispanic Caucus and the entire YDA family celebrates this historic moment with a renewed dedication to continue to give the good fight for Hispanics across America against the Republican agenda of exclusion and intolerance to diversity.”

YDA Hispanic Caucus National Treasurer, Kayleigh Garcia of Texas issued the following statement: “I am so happy and honored that Julian Castro spoke tonight and I was here in person to listen to his message. He is an inspiration to all Hispanics everywhere who want to pursue their dreams. It is possible in today’s America and we need to ensure that it continues to be possible for future generations to come. We all unite in this magical week. All Americans, not just Hispanics, can be proud of what our country has come from.”

The YDA Hispanic Caucus was created to advance the issues of all Hispanic Americans from Puerto Rican Status to Immigration Reform. These efforts are part of a broader initiative within YDA to engage the Hispanic community.

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If you’d like more information or would like to schedule an interview with either Mr. Arroyo or Ms. Garcia, please call Emily Sussman, YDA Executive Director, at 212-877-6464 or email at [email protected]

The Young Democrats of America (YDA) is the largest youth-led, national, partisan political organization. Founded in 1932, YDA has mobilized young people under the age of 36 to participate in the electoral process, influenced the ideals of the Democratic Party, and developed the skills of the youth generation to serve as leaders at the local and national level for over 80 years.

Comparing Platform Politics – August 29, 2012

A statement from YDA Executive Director Emily Tisch Sussman on the 2012 official party platforms:

With conventions underway, buzz around party platforms promises renewed attention to the talking points that concern young voters in the upcoming election. Already, we’ve seen increased visibility surrounding around issues such as abortion, marriage equality, job creation, and affordable education–likely important points in the battle over youth votes. This year’s Democratic platform offers, once again, policy and perspective that speaks to the interests of young Americans, in contrast to a GOP party that continues to trend further away than ever before.

After Senator Todd Akin’s regrettable remarks concerning “legitimate rape” and conception, the status of women’s health issues and abortion has taken center stage. The GOP platform supports a federal ban on abortions, effectively insuring government encroachment upon a woman’s right to choose, and showing that their position is not actually that far from Akin’s. Tied into plans for a Medicare voucher system, both Republican nominees have also spoken out loudly against funding family planning organizations that offer birth control and contraceptives to women. The Democratic party, on the other hand, stands behind Obamacare as it continues to provide universal coverage of women’s health services, no longer treats being a woman as a pre-existing condition, and affordable health care for all Americans, young and old.

Following YDA’s lead on LGBT rights, this year’s Democratic ticket also promotes the expansion of marriage equality across the country, adding for the first time in history a marriage equality plank to the official party platform, which we called for the inclusion of in March. The addition of this plank comes on the heels of President Obama’s public announcement in support of same-sex marriage and the earlier repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”–both of which debuted to consistently positive reception by America’s youth vote. Conservative as ever, the GOP platform praises the efforts of those states and politicians who have fought against marriage equality in the past, unequivocally endorsing the Defense of Marriage Act in the process and stepping further in favor of actions that would amend the constitution with a federal bar on same-sex marriage, a position supported by Vice Presidential nominee, Paul Ryan. Despite the Log Cabin Republicans’ involvement in the drafting process, there appears to be little more in the way of LGBT advocacy than gesture of consolation. Although the plan’s marriage clause embraces “the principle that all Americans should be treated with respect and dignity,” it remains unclear how exactly the party plans to do so.

Debt-bridled graduates and prospective college students have made affordable education a priority in this year’s election. The Republican platform calls for the increased privatization of student loans, a move which would likely benefit big-money lenders and big-business schools. The message out of the Romney-Ryan campaign trail is no different: “Shop Around, Borrow From Your Parents” and eliminate Pell Grants. And while the Republican National Convention carries on in Tampa, President Obama is visiting college campuses across the countries promoting increased investment in Pell Grants, 10-year debt forgiveness, and the already utilized 10% cap on student loan repayment.

The differences between these platforms could not be more stark. Equal pay for women, affordable health care, job creation in environmentally-friendly industry, marriage equality–these are just some of the values of the Democratic party. Increasingly stringent voter ID laws, augmented spending on defense and a space program, tax cuts for the wealthiest sect of American, lax gun control legislation–all priorities which define the GOP as the wrong party for Millenials. As that demographic has made emphatically clear, social issues occupy a high priority in the minds of young voters; as both platforms have made emphatically clear as well, only one party has youth interests in mind.

- Emily Tisch Sussman

YDA Women’s Caucus Denounces the GOP’s Attempt to Minimize Rape – August 29, 2012

“Republican men have made it clear over the past few weeks that they have no idea how women’s bodies work. The GOP should have a biology class on the female reproductive system, with a side of sensitivity training. First, it was Todd Akin, who made the now infamous comment about “legitimate rape,” citing that “doctors” told him women’s bodies shut “the whole thing down” to prevent pregnancy in such cases, then it was Rep. Steve King who said he never knew anyone that became pregnant from rape, even though according to the American Journal of Obstetrics, 32,000 woman a year become pregnant due to rape, clearly not knowing anyone personally means, it didn’t happen.

GOP Vice Presidential candidate, Paul Ryan is no different than King and Akin. The GOP candidate for vice president thinks that rape is an alternative form of conception. While the Wisconsin Republican publicly denounced Akin’s remarks, he collaborated with Akin a year ago on HR 3 a bill that attempted to redefine rape. Like President Obama said, “Rape is rape.”

Ryan and Akin statements and legislative actions share a belief in the rights and lives of the unborn. They both have made it clear they have no concern for the rights and lives of women who have already been born. The GOP platform ready to be voted on in Tampa echoes this sentiment, outlawing abortion in all cases, including rape, incest and to save a woman’s life.

Paul Ryan’s comments are incredibly troubling. That he sees rape as just another means of conception should worry every woman in America, and every man who cares about women. Rape is a serious crime, which no woman deserves, regardless of how she dresses, where she goes at night or how many men she has had consensual sex with. Rape is about power and control, not sex. If a woman becomes pregnant from rape, she needs to be able to take back the control that was taken from her. That means having all of the options available, not just abortion. If she wants to continue the pregnancy and either raise her child or give it up for adoption, that is her choice. Forcing a woman to endure a pregnancy she does not want, after she has been sexually violated is unconscionable.

Paul Ryan’s stance on this issue shows that he is not fit to be one heartbeat away from the presidency. He shows a lack of compassion for women and their lives. To men like Akin and Ryan, women are just an incubator who became pregnant by a “method of conception.”

American women, and the men who love them, should reject Ryan’s extremist position on this issue. We’re lucky to have a vice president like Joe Biden who cares about women. Biden has been a long time champion of the Violence Against Women Act from its beginning. Let’s not trade him in for the likes of Paul Ryan.”

Arlington Young Dems Rally for Women’s Health – August 28, 2012

Arlington Young Dems with Planned Parenthood President, Cecile Richards and Virginia’s House Minority Whip, Delegate Charniele Herring

On Sunday, members of the Arlington Young Democrats of Arlington, Virginia attended Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s “Women Are Watching” National Bus Stop & Rally in Arlington, Virginia. The stop in Arlington is part of Planned Parenthood’s “Women are Watching” National Bus Tour which is crisscrossing the country,  and educating the voters about what’s at stake for women’s health in November.

As many know, Virginia has been on the frontlines on the women’s health battle.

Virginia’s Republican controlled legislature attempted to pass many bills that would have undermined women’s health and their decisions, among them:

  • “a personhood” bill that would have outlawed many forms of birth control and invitro-fertilization treatments for women (so radical a bill even the voters in Mississippi rejected it on the ballot);
  • a mandatory trans-vaginal ultrasound bill, a medically unnecessary and invasive procedure before an abortion.

The trans-vaginal mandatory ultrasound bill created so much outrage,  the Virginia legislature was fodder for Amy Poehler on Saturday Night Light, Stephen Colbert, and Jon Stewart. Stewart even came to Richmond to film one of his shows there.

So obviously, Planned Parenthood picked Arlington as one of its two stops in Virginia.

Among the rally’s speakers were former DNC Chair, Virginia Governor, and now US Senate Candidate, Tim Kaine and Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards. I was honored to be asked to speak on behalf of young people as part of the rally’s program.

As part of my remarks, I said: “We, the Millenials, (as they like to call us) have to remain vigilant against the political assaults on women’s health. We must channel our frustration and real-life concerns into productive activism, rallies, phone banking, and canvassing, getting out the vote amongst our peers, because this election matters for our future.”

Young people, especially young women, are not only watching, we’re taking action.

Atima Omara-Alwala
National Vice President
Young Democrats of America

Hacia Adelante-

It still seems as if it were yesterday that I had the privilege of interning at the office of Congresswoman Linda Sanchez (CA-39 D) during the winter of 2004. As a young 21 year old Puerto Rican headed to our nation’s capital to work on the hill for a semester, I remember vividly how excited I was to get to work and gain the so anticipated up front and center perspective of our nation’s legislative branch and the law making process. Not only that, but I would be working at the U.S. Capitol during the final stretch of the 2004 Presidential elections in middle of the Kerry vs Bush frenzy, the presidential debates that followed, and the policy struggle and political chess moves made by both sides of the aisle in order to promote and advance the principles of each party’s respective visions for America. At the time, a nation that was once thought to be united for the common purpose of supporting the war on terrorism after the September 11th attacks, was then divided as a result of the Bush administration’s inaccuracies in regards to allegations of the existence of weapons of mass destruction in power of Saddam Hussein; inaccuracies which eventually misled Congress to approve an unnecessary war in Iraq that cost the lives of thousands of our brave men and women in uniform when our true targets were supposed to be Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda.

And so, as opposed to our current 2012 electoral cycle where the economy and job creation seem to be at the top of the issues priority list, national security and foreign policy were the priority issues back in 2004. During the course of my work experience at Congresswoman Linda Sanchez’s office, I remember taking on numerous research duties on an array of issues pertinent to the constituency based needs of the citizens of the 39th district of California, all of which I found interesting and important for the future of not only the congresswoman’s constituents but for our entire nation. There was however one issue that I must confess did not stimulate my interest when compared to the rest, and that was immigration reform. Having been born with automatic US citizenship by birth and all the benefits and responsibilities that entailed, my ignorance at the time blinded me to embrace the issue and to ultimately do as so many Americans do today and that is to irresponsibly take our citizenship for granted.

All of this changed one late afternoon workday at the congresswoman’s office when the phone at my desk ran and I picked up like I had done in so many previous occasions throughout the semester. However, this call would prove to be quite different from the rest. This time, the person on the other line would not be a conservative calling to blast the Congresswoman for supporting liberal policies, nor would it be a liberal calling to congratulate the Congresswoman for standing up to President Bush and the Republican controlled congress. On this occasion, I would be called by a sobbing voice of a young adult Hispanic woman who in spanish timidly requested for help. Caught off guard by the situation, I immediately attempted to calm her down and I recall how she loosened up and felt more comfortable after I began attending her request in spanish. She told me she was devastated by how her family was falling apart over the fact that her husband, an honest hard working blue collar worker was forcefully deported to Mexico causing him to leave her and their 3 children behind to fend for themselves. Despite of the fact that her husband earned a modest yet respectable income doing work that the majority of Americans would not be willing to do, with the sole purpose of supporting his family and providing his children with a path towards a decent education and ultimately the American dream, he was deemed unfit to remain as a member of our great nation because of his “alien” status; a term I would later grow to despise to this very day. The desperation in the woman’s voice would increase whenever I would attempt to gather more information about the details of her case and I remember how bad I felt for her and the urgency I had to help solve the problem.

Her case however, would prove to be very complicated thanks in great part to the broken immigration system at the time, a system that remains broken to this very day. Despite of the Congresswoman’s due diligence in attending the situation, upon my exit as a congressional intern at the end of the semester the woman’s case status would prove to still be ongoing, despite of how much I wanted to receive good news before heading back home. One thing was for sure, immigration reform would no longer be an issue I ignorantly considered irrelevant to me due to my automatic US citizenship. I made a promise to myself that I would get active and join the millions of people in America that have worked and continue to be an integral part of the solution to this problem. Former Mexican president, Vicente Fox, once expressed in 2001, that President George W. Bush, and the leadership of both parties of Congress were about to pass significant immigration reform legislation benefiting Mexican emigration to the U.S., but then the terrorists attacked occurred on September 11th which unfortunately shifted immigration at the bottom of the priority list. However, the Republicans at that time are not the same Republicans we have today in Congress.

The republican congress today has now been hijacked by Tea Party activists lead by now Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan whomhave total disregard to human suffering and the needs of those within the immigrant community that come to our nation in search of a better quality of life for their families. As opposed to 2004 when Republicans’ justification to drop the immigration reform issue was the war on terror, a debatably viable reason for many, today they now present the “defeat of President Obama and the avoidance of a second Obama term as their sole priority in these elections”. As preposterous and ridiculous as this is, President Obama has remained focused on providing immigrants what they have anxiously awaited for decades, and that is true comprehensive immigration reform that would put a halt to unjust deportations and provide a path to citizenship to millions of Hispanic immigrants in our nation today, and he has acted.

Fast forward to the middle of the recently concluded summer of 2012 when I was humbled to have had the opportunity to work at the White House as an Economic Policy Intern for Vice President Joe Biden. On one glorious Mid June afternoon this past summer, I remember having hopped over from the White House to the Hill to have lunch with friends who work in Congress. It was from a TV at the Longworth House Office Building cafeteria where I witnessed President Obama’s historic announcement of his administration’s new immigration policy change, stating the government will stop deporting young, undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, many of which were in school. I stood in awe and realized I was watching history in the making by a President willing to stand up and do the work Congress had failed to do when they turned their backs on DREAMERS and were unwilling to work in bipartisan fashion to avoid the suffering of so many families like the one I attended on the hill back in 2004. As of yesterday, August 15th, 2012, young undocumented immigrants now have the opportunity to apply for the President’s new deferred action policy through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services website at:

http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.eb1d4c2a3e5b9ac89243c6a7543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=f2ef2f19470f7310VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD&vgnextchannel=f2ef2f19470f7310VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD

By order of the President of the United States, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) continues to focus its resources on the removal of individuals who represent a danger to national security, including individuals convicted of crimes, felons, and repeat offenders, DHS will exercise prosecutorial discretion as appropriate to ensure that enforcement resources are not expended on low priority cases, such as individuals who came to the United States as children. The YDA Hispanic Caucus urges you to pass the above included link to friends and family members who are interested in applying for deferred action and spread the word to as many people as possible. Together we will be saving one family at a time. Una familia a la vez. There is still so much to do. We have to ensure President Obama is reelected along with a democratic majority in order to make immigration reform a reality and only together can we make it happen.

After watching President Obama conclude his remarks that glorious summer day, I hurried over to the metro train station in route to head back in time to the White House. As I boarded the train and sat down, a young Hispanic woman sitting next to me with her adorable toddler daughter asked me in Spanish: “Señor, en que direccion vamos?” “Sir, in what direction are we headed?” Before replying with the name of the next Metro station, I paused and while remembering the sobbing woman I attended back in 2004, I turned over to her, smiled and answered: “Hacia adelante señora….” “Vamos hacia adelante….”“Forward ….We are moving forward……”

Phillip Arroyo Rodriguez

Chairman of the Hispanic Caucus

Young Democrats of America

YDA Statement on VP Pick Paul Ryan – August 11, 2012

With the selection of Paul Ryan as his candidate for Vice President, Mitt Romney has once again proven that he is out touch with the American people and particularly the Millennial Generation. With this pick, Romney has chosen a candidate who has made it a priority to burden the middle class while delivering permanent tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

The stakes could not be higher. Paul Ryan has proposed cutting Pell Grants for 10 million students, slashing investments in clean energy and green jobs, and removing 200,000 children from the Head Start program that so many young, middle class families depend on. He would also end Medicare as we know it and shift thousands of dollars in medical costs to our grandparents in order to pay for additional tax cuts for the top one percent.

Paul Ryan’s values are out of step with young Americans in countless other ways. He voted against the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which helps deliver equal pay for equal work for women. He opposed the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” which discriminated against gay and lesbian military personnel, and he supports enshrining discrimination in the Constitution by including an amendment to ban gay marriage.

Young Americans across the country will categorically reject the Romney-Ryan vision for our country that fails to invest in our generation or provide opportunities for us to succeed. The Young Democrats of America will continue to work hard to reelect President Obama and Vice President Biden over the next 87 days as they fight to build an economy and future for all Americans, not just the highest bidder.

With Healthcare Reform, Young Women Win – August 9, 2012

After August 1, 2012 thanks to President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, young American women will be able to obtain a number of crucial preventive services at no charge to them through most insurance plans. Previously some insurance companies did not cover these preventive services for women at all, other women had to pay deductibles or copays for the care they needed to stay healthy. The listed preventive services below will be offered without cost sharing beginning August 2012 in all new health plans.

Among those services:

  • Well-woman visits.
  • Gestational diabetes screening that helps protect pregnant women from one of the most serious pregnancy-related diseases.
  • Domestic and interpersonal violence screening and counseling.
  • FDA-approved contraceptive methods, and contraceptive education and counseling.
  • Breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling.
  • HPV DNA testing, for women 30 or older.
  • Sexually transmitted infections counseling for sexually-active women.
  • HIV screening and counseling for sexually-active women.

This is a HUGE victory for young women since young women see their ob/gyn reliably. The most important part of this health victory is the affordable access to contraception.  According to a recent report from the Center for American Progress (CAP), women are most at risk for an unintended pregnancy during there 20s. 54% of unplanned pregnancies between the ages of 20 and 29; 31 percent are under the age of 20; and 15% of unplanned pregnancies are among women age 30 and older.

If a young woman is uninsured, there can be up to $1200 in annual costs for oral contraceptives and related doctor appointments. Even an insured woman can spend more than $200 on her annual supply of oral contraception and related doctor’s appointments.

Given that the average annual income for working adults ages 18 to 34 is $27,458 these costs present real obstacles to young women’s access to care. Young women are least likely to have insurance for a variety of reasons, which primarily include working part-time jobs or temporary and low wage jobs that do not offer solid health benefits. This Great Recession has not made that access any easier. Studies have shown women 18-34 struggle to pay for contraception leading them not to use contraceptives consistently putting them at risk for an unplanned pregnancy or a reproductive health complication if they need contraception for other medical reasons.

Not to be forgotten, access to affordable contraception is not just about preventing pregnancy but providing important health care for women. More than half of pill users (58 percent) rely on the method at least in part for purposes other than pregnancy prevention such as for cramps or menstrual pain, menstrual regulation, acne, endometriosis and similar reproductive ailments. Contraception is crucial medicine for many women.

Younger women have truly benefited from an Obama administration. Now that 1.1 million young women are able to stay on their parents’ health care plans until they’re 26. Having access to affordable women’s health care ensures a tangible long-term benefit for America’s young women.

Atima Omara-Alwala
Vice President
Young Democrats of America

A Call to Action Against Voter ID Laws from the College Caucus – August 6, 2012

Last week, many of you probably raised your eyebrows when former Florida Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer announced that the Florida Republican Party actively engaged in voter suppression efforts. Over the last few years, from Maine to Montana, we have seen a concerted effort by Republican legislatures to make it more difficult to vote.

Of course, Democrats haven’t sat by the sidelines. In New Hampshire, Govenor John Lynch vetoed a voter ID law that would make it more difficult for students at colleges like the University of New Hampshire, Franklin Pierce University, and Dartmouth College to cast their ballot — a critical voting block in a small but important state. Just an hour or so north of Concord, in Maine, voters overwhelmingly rejected a law that would have eliminated the Pine Tree State’s 30-year-old Same Day Voter registration law.

But while Democrats have stood strong, laws in Ohio and Pennsylvania are poised to make it more difficult for certain groups to vote in (or before) November. Unless voters are actively mobilized to make a stand for the right to vote in this election, we could watch as voter laws become more restrictive over the years to come.

Rock the Vote’s Electionland is a great, nonpartisan, state-by-state guide to voting requirements and important dates. This fall, if you live in one of the states with a restrictive new voter ID law, be sure that you actively inform students and your peers about what they’ll need to vote. While it’s crucial that students know the important differences between the important differences between the major candidates, it’s just as important that we protect the vote for years to come.

Nikki Turner

College Caucus Secretary-Treasurer

Young Democrats of America
Why Julian Castro AS Keynote is a BFD – August 2, 2012

Yesterday it was announced that San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro will serve as the Keynote Speaker for the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

As an organization, the Young Democrats of America should celebrate this announcement for many reasons. The first is that as an organization we have taken great strides in the last few years to ensure the Latino community has a greater voice in our politics and the democratic process. With the formation of the YDA Hispanic Caucus we join the Democratic National Committee and other allied organizations in celebrating the emergence of Latino voices in our discourse and in leading this great nation.

We have as an organization stood firm in our support for the DREAM Act and have applauded the recent actions taken by President Obama to ensure that millions of young people who have come to this nation through no fault of their own, are given an opportunity to continue to live in, contribute to, and serve a nation that in every metric imaginable is home.

And that is what this moment becomes about and why we should celebrate the fact that Mayor Castro, at just 37, will serve as one of the youngest people to deliver a keynote address at the Democratic National Convention.

The selection of Mayor Castro is a powerful statement of the rightness of our party’s vision for our nation. That in this nation, a young man, who like so many of us, was raised in a single parent family, in poverty, with low-expectations from many outside of his immediate family of what he could accomplish, is now not only the youngest mayor of a Top-50 city in the nation, but will stand with the First Lady of the United States and address millions of his fellow Americans is in itself proof positive that we are a party that not only believes in America’s exceptionalism but our members are the embodiment of America’s exceptionalism.

That Mayor Castro is young also sends a powerful signal of the importance of our generational opportunity and responsibility. We have all read the polls that suggest, with great validity, that we will be the margin of victory this time around, and that no doubt played a part in the Mayor’s selection. However, his acceptance of this honor should also serve as an example to the rest of us, that it is not just enough to believe in President Obama or even the Democratic party itself, we are required to not only believe, but to act.

As an organization, we too are accepting this responsibility. We certainly understand the importance of organizing and registering people to vote and volunteering on behalf of campaigns and we have a stellar record of accomplishments on the local, state, and national level. Yet, when the elections are over, as Mayor Castro’s leadership is evidence of, we must begin the work of shaping America, city by city and state by state. We have accepted this responsibility through a host of initiatives, advocacy pushes, and support for (or sometimes against) legislation, all geared towards putting our beliefs into action.

We are required to stand up for what we believe in and use whatever platform at our disposal to shape the future we will not only inherit, but that we and future generations deserve. Mayor Castro will no doubt speak a great deal about his record leading San Antonio, a record which accounts for his overwhelming re-election by 83 percent of the vote. That leadership is what makes him extraordinary. That commitment to and action implementing the ideals that have shaped our nation and our party is why we should be both elated and inspired by Julian Castro.

And that in the backyard of Governor Rick Perry who has managed to paint, with a broad brush, an unfortunate characterization of a state that has given us Congressman Henry B. Gonzalez, Former San Antonio Mayor, HUD Secretary, (and my mom’s old boss) Henry Cisneros, and the Great Governor Ann Richards, the selection of Mayor Castro is one more great recognition that just because the media paints a state red, it does not mean there are not those of us on the blue team fighting the good fight and winning!

Colmon Elridge

Executive Vice President

Young Democrats of America

Statement on the Proposed Inclusion of Marriage Equality to the DNC Platform – July 30, 2012

The Young Democrats of America is proud to have long advocated for the inclusion of marriage equality in the platform of the Democratic National Committee. Polling shows that as a generation, both young Democrats and young Republicans have long understood that equality is a fundamental cornerstone of the greatness of America and this addition is one step forward for our nation as a whole. We are proud to have fought for this inclusion as well as the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and we will continue to stand in solidarity with all Americans who believe that our country is strongest when we stand behind and fight for our founding ideals, that in this nation, all are created equal and endowed by their creator life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Colmon Elridge,

Executive Vice President

Young Democrats of America

A Reflection on the 22nd Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act – July 26, 2012

Today 22 years ago the Americans with Disabilities Act came into effect. The Act covered a variety of services including:

  • Title 1 Employment: Persons with disabilities can apply to jobs, be hired and not be afraid of being discriminated against or fired for having a disability.
  • Title 2 Public Entities (and public transportation): Providing accessibility in trains,buses, taxis, airplanes and other means of transportation.
  • Title 3 Public Accommodations (and Commercial Facilities): creating accessibility at schools, hotels, businesses, and other structures.
  • Title 4 Telecommunications: Providing a communication line for people with are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • Title 5 Miscellaneous Provisions it prevents retaliation against someone for using their rights under ADA or who provides those rights as well as other provisions.

Over the years since its passage, there have been many benefits to the law which we experience daily, and which have in many ways become the norm. The law over the years has been critiqued for language and missing important civil rights, leading to the 2008 passage of the ADA Amendments Act. The ADA has helped lead to the United States Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities expanding the conversation on disability civil rights throughout the world. The Americans with Disabilities Act is not a perfect law, and with each new generation it will be further expanded to fit the needs of new and future generations. The ADA has, however, successfully led to a larger conversation in disability civil rights in the United States and all around the world.

Today we all celebrate the 22nd Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act for expanding disability rights in the United States and opening the door to continue the pursuit of equality for all people with disabilities.

Sincerely,
Dustin Hausner
Young Democrats of America
Disability Caucus Chair

YDA Responds to Romney Advisor’s “Anglo-Saxon” Comments – July 26, 2012

Yesterday news broke that Governor Mitt Romney’s campaign, out of ideas and desperate to change the subject from his failed policies to create jobs in Massachusetts, outsourcing of good paying jobs as CEO of Bain Capitol, and the growing chorus of members of his own party calling for him to provide a more complete view of how he made his millions by releasing his tax returns, took to the very gutter of American politics by injecting race in this campaign. Failing to adhere to the time-honored tradition of having our politics stop at the waters edge, an adviser to Gov. Romney told a paper in London that President Obama has not been an effective partner for Great Britain because he doesn’t “fully appreciate” America’s “Anglo-Saxon heritage.”

“Mr. Romney has surrounded himself with advisers who don’t seem to understand that the United States is a melting pot and the contributions of all of America’s people and cultures are what make this country great”, said Ralph Johnson, chairman of the Young Democrats of America’s Minority Caucus.  He went on to say these comments, which come on the heels of those by Romney campaign co-chair Gov. John Sununu who also alluded to the president’s multi-racial background, “is a slap in the face to those who have stood for civil rights and social equality.”

“The Young Democrats of America and indeed the majority of young Americans across our nation are a generation that categorically reject these racially tinged comments and support the position of Vice President Biden that these comments are “beneath the dignity of a presidential campaign”, said Colmon Elridge, Executive Vice President of YDA. “It is clear that unable to gain traction with the American electorate on the issues or his record, Mr. Romney and his campaign have decided to play to the lowest levels. As the father of two bi-racial children I can assure the Romney campaign that my sons, as does the President, not only understand both their Anglo-Saxon and African American heritage, but more importantly understand their American heritage, which in this nation is what we should be defined by.”

Over the next 103 days, the Young Democrats of America, working with our nationwide network of state and local chapters, will continue to build upon our work from 2008 in support of the re-election of President Obama as well as to support Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives, the United States Senate, and local and statewide races throughout the nation.

President Obama protects economic security for the middle class – July 11, 2012

Once again, President Obama is taking on the fight on behalf of millennials and the middle class by fighting to extend tax cuts for millions of Americans who would like to know that their economic security is not tied to politics.
For our generation, knowing that as we begin new careers or start a family that we have the economic security to do so is a fundamental foundation to our ability to achieve the American dream. While Mitt Romney and Congressional Republicans will assuredly stand against economic security for the majority of Americans, we will continue to press Congress to not act in the interest of defeating the President, as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has said is his number one priority, but instead to offer relief to the millions of young Americans and middle class families who have worked hard and played by the rules.
We urge the House and Senate to pass tax cuts for young Americans, their families, and the middle class as soon as possible, and to get that bill to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

Colmon Eldridge

Executive Vice President

Young Democrats of America

Supreme Court Ruling Banishes “Pre-Existing Conditons” to the History Books – June 28, 2012

Fourth of July Weekend in 2008 did not start out like I planned it to. My Independence Day would usually entail the normal events of celebrating the birth of our nation, and my grandmother, who was born on the 5th, by gathering with my family and friends in Johnson County, eating fried chicken, playing bluegrass music and shooting off the most powerful fireworks the law will allow. But July 4, 2008 began not with fireworks, but in an emergency room, with a large piece of steak lodged in my esophagus. A tracheotomy was preformed to remove it, and I was able to end the day in a field near my home, lighting up the Eastern Kentucky sky.

A few weeks later my eyes lit up brighter than the fireworks when I saw the bill from the hospital: my insurance carrier had deemed that removing the piece of steak I had choked on was not covered under my policy because of a “pre-existing condition”. This is a term I had grown familiar with over the years: as a 27-year survivor of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, I had discovered that, despite having been in remission with no relapses since 1985, I am still considered by insurers to be “high risk”. So high risk that somehow choking on a piece of steak must have had something to do with my childhood illness. Luckily, the situation was eventually resolved: once the company was made aware of the procedure they had denied, they rescinded their denial in a hurry.

But the term “pre-existing condition” was an albatross around my neck. It meant I couldn’t afford to start my own business, I couldn’t afford to lose my job – I couldn’t take any risk in life that would result in a gap in my coverage. My options in life and in a career would always be hindered by that God-forsaken term “Pre-Existing Condition”. This was not a burden limited to me: while I only was forced to wade through oceans of red tape, the denial of coverage because of “pre-existing conditions” has cost many Americans their financial security, their health, and their very lives. In comparison to the trials suffered by other folks who were deemed by some executive with their eye on the bottom line as “high risk”, the steak episode seems almost trivial. But there was a whole class out there of us: men, women, and children, all whose health was deemed expendable because we had been sick once in our lives.

But then something changed. We elected a President and a Congress that wanted to do something about this. They passed the Affordable Care Act, which eliminated the restrictions that kept people like myself away from affordable health care.

However, that hung in the balance until today. Until today, my ability to start my own business was on the fence. Until today, I was uncertain whether I could buy into pools created by the Affordable Care Act and be able to afford health insurance at a rate that would be reasonable. Thankfully, the Supreme Court upheld the ACA and protections for people with pre-existing conditions like me.

We live in a country that has been blessed more than most: as Jefferson said in our Declaration, our Creator endows us with rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. For too long, too many of my fellow Americans have been denied those rights because we were considered “high risk”.

Regardless of the court’s ruling today, we must work hard to elect Democrats all over this country who will fight to protect those of us who the corporate world, in its pursuit of profits, has deemed expendable. We need to send strong Democrats to Washington who will fight to protect the laws we have passed, and keep those who believe a profit is worth more than a person’s life, health or finances away from the levers of power, and so that when 2014 arrives, the word “pre-existing condition” will join the ranks of “slavery” and “segregation” as something we used to have in America but never will again.

Travis Scott
Chair, Rural Caucus
Young Democrats of America

YDA Statement on the Supreme Court Ruling on the Affordable Care Act – June 28, 2012

“The Young Democrats of America (YDA) praises the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act, ensuring that tens of millions of Americans have access to basic health care.  From this day forward, health care in the United States will be a right for all Americans, not a privilege for those who can afford it.

“While the political implications of today’s decision will be widely debated, it’s important to remember what this was really about.  No one should die because they can’t afford health care.  No one should go broke because they get sick.

“Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, 3.1 million young Americans have health insurance through their parents’ plans, children can no longer be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions, and you can no longer be penalized for simply being a woman.

“For many young people, today is a reminder of why we are involved in the political process.  Elections have consequences.  We elected a president in 2008 who was committed to addressing a broken health care system in the U.S.  We fought alongside a Democratic Congress to pass a law in 2010 that extended coverage to tens of millions of Americans who were previously uninsured.  And today we celebrate that the progress has been preserved by the Supreme Court.

“Republicans are vowing to repeal the Affordable Care Act if they control Congress and the White House next year.  Now more than ever, YDA is committed to electing Democrats who will make certain that we never roll back the clock to a time when basic health care was a question of economic status.  We will fight to ensure that our children grow up in a nation with a moral imperative to care for the sick.  This is a fundamental value of our generation, and it is what’s at stake in this November’s election.”

Urgent Action: Tell Congress “Don’t Double My Student Loan Rate” – June 25, 2012

On Thursday, President Obama spoke to students at the White House to stress the urgency of Congress acting before July 1 to stop interest rates from doubling for more than 7 million students. Congress has 5 days to act before students are hit with the equivalent of a $1,000 tax increase. To ensure this deadline does not pass, please email your members of Congress in the next 24 hours and ask them to prevent student loan rates from doubling.

Tell Congress, “Don’t Double My Rate”

At a time when Americans owe more on student loans than credit cards, President Obama believes we must reward hard work and responsibility by keeping interest rates on student loans low.  The goal is for more Americans get a fair shot at an affordable college education, the skills they need to find a good job, and a clear path to middle class.

This deadline didn’t sneak up on us.  The President has been calling on Congress to act for five months.  He urged Congress to act during the State of the Union, included this as a priority in the budget, and traveled across the country pushing Congress to act.  But once again, we’re struck watching Congress play chicken with another deadline.  Unfortunately Republicans in Congress continue to stand in way.  Last month, Democrats in the Senate put forward a plan that would have kept these rates in place without adding a dime to the deficit, but Senate Republicans blocked it.  Worse yet, House Republicans will only agree to a student loan bill if we cut things like preventive health care for women.

This is all about the economy.  As President Obama said, “Higher education cannot be a luxury reserved just for a privileged few. It is an economic necessity that every family should be able to afford.”  Please contact your members of Congress today and ask them to keep college affordable for all Americans!

Thanks,

Rod Snyder
President
Young Democrats of America

Pride Month – June 18, 2012

The month of June is significant for many reasons, but to the LGBTQ Community it reminds us of the battles we’ve won and allows us to celebrate them.  President Bill Clinton began in 2000 by declaring the month of June as Pride Month.  This helps to commemorate the Stonewall Riots of 1969.

Although Pride month has been celebrated many years prior to President Clinton’s declaration, it was just another forward step in our battle for Equality.  President Obama has declared June as “Pride Month” every year of his time in Washington.  In 2011, he called on us to “…to observe this month by fighting prejudice and discrimination in their own lives and everywhere it exists.”

We’ve made great strides in equality since 1969 but still have a bit to go.  Please make sure to visit our article on the President’s progress to Equality.  It is located at our website: http://www.ydalgbtq.org or by click on Obama’s Progress since being elected.

The YDA LGBTQ Caucus is determined to eradicating prejudices and discrimination at all levels.  We understand that it begins with our young americans and are committed to ensuring the betterment of our lives and those that come after us.

On behalf of the caucus, Happy Pride!

Sincerely,

Kristian Cosme
Chair
YDA LGBTQ Caucus

YDA Applauds Obama for Standing Up for Undocumented Children- June 15, 2012

President Vows to Keep Undocumented Children in United States – Will Block Deportations

WASHINGTON, D.C. (JUNE 15) - President Obama announced today that his Administration will end the deportation of undocumented children and students. The President’s move represents one of the boldest efforts to uplift the dignity of the estimated more than one million undocumented children and students who would benefit from this change in policy. As the President explained, “Effective immediately, the Department of Homeland Security is taking steps to lift the shadow of deportation from these young people.  They are American in their hearts and in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper.  This is the right thing to do.”

 The Young Democrats of America enthusiastically stands by the President’s decision as the values represented in his decision allude to the most basic notion that we are our brother’s and sister’s keepers. YDA Democratic National Committeeman Francisco J. Domenech stated, “Yet again, President Obama has taken a courageous step forward in expanding the American Dream to people who have come to our shores looking for a chance to succeed.”

The decision by the Administration is one that demonstrates true leadership and the foresight to stand on the side of basic fairness. The policy change will impact those who came to the United States before the age of 16, have lived here continuously for at least 5 years and are currently in the country. They must be pursing an education, have graduated from high school, or be honorably discharged veterans of the Armed Forces. YDA Hispanic Caucus Vice Chair Eden Ramirez noted, “We are truly privileged to be able to witness such a historic announcement by a President who time after time demonstrates true leadership by doing the right thing by defending the best interests of the Hispanic Community and the American people as a whole.”

Most of those who will benefit from the policy change would have been able to seek relief under the DREAM Act. Unfortunately, the Republican House with the support of Mitt Romney has been blocking any real effort to reform our broken immigration system. YDA Treasurer Jonathan Padilla pointed out, “The DREAM Act represents commonsense reform that would have allowed those attending college or serving our nation in the military to remain in the country they call home. President Obama is committed to real reform and leadership, while Mitt Romney and the Republican Congress can’t even agree on what their immigration policy is going to be over the next 5 months.”

YDA Statement on North Carolina’s Passage of Amendment 1- May 9, 2012

Statement from YDA Executive Vice President on Passage of North Carolina’s Amendment 1:

“The Young Democrats of America join the thousands of North Carolinians, led by the North
Carolina Young Democrats, and millions of Americans, in our profound sadness that once again
hate has found a place in a state constitution.

Since our founding, America has been strongest when it has led with the conviction that, for
whatever our personal prejudices, the rights of law abiding citizens should not be restricted
by the constitution, but rather protected by it. It seems that Republicans believe it is sound
conservative politics and policy to protect the rights they agree with while perverting state
constitutions to disenfranchise those they find disagreement with. This strategy is not only
divisive, but weakens America by weakening our strongest founding principles of liberty and
justice for all.

While saddened by this outcome, we are proud of the leadership of the North Carolina Young
Democrats by fighting for equality and for remaining on the right side of history. Their leadership
should give all hope that in the not too distant future, North Carolina will have a generation of
leaders who will correct this grave injustice and lead their state with integrity and fidelity to the
intent of the US Constitution.

The Young Democrats of America will continue to press within our own party for the inclusion
of equality in our party platform and look forward to working with leaders throughout the
Democratic party to move America forward by standing by the constitution not manipulating and
dismantling it for political and hateful purposes as has unfortunately become all too common in
this Republican-Tea Party era.”

YDA Statement on Failure of Student Loan Interest Rate Bill- May 8, 2012

Statement by YDA Executive Director Emily Tisch Sussman:

“YDA is disappointed with the failure of the Student Loan bill in the Senate today. With the rate for Stafford Loans doubling on July 1, time is running out for Congress to do the right thing and keep loans affordable for young people. An increase to 6.8% on loans would create a huge burden on young people who are trying to create a better future for themselves, their families, and America. YDA is proud to stand with President Obama and Majority Leaders Harry Reid in a continued call for Congress to find a solution that is in the best interested of our future. “

YDA Supports VAWA Reauthorization- April 22, 2012

Amidst all the negative news about women’s health and rights this election cycle, one positive is on the horizon. The Senate is about to take up reauthorization of the Violence against Women Act (VAWA), and the new version will expand protections to new communities: undocumented immigrants, Native Americans and LGBT individuals. Not everybody likes these new provisions though. Some members of the Republican Party, lead by Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, have opposed the reauthorization of VAWA specifically because they don’t want these individuals to have protection against domestic violence under the law.

In case you’re not familiar with the bill, VAWA was originally written by then Senator Biden in 1994, and has dramatically changed domestic violence statistics in this country, with rates cut in half since it was first passed. It’s also important to remember that VAWA works to protect women AND men who are the victims of domestic violence, but focuses on women for the simple reason that more women suffer from domestic violence than men. It’s important for us as Young Democrats to stand up for VAWA, and for expanding it to new populations. We believe that every woman, regardless of immigration status, sexual orientation or race/ethnicity should receive the same protections under the law. It’s a shame certain Republican senators can’t see it that way.

Voter Suppression: The Republican War on Voting

 

Government and Electoral Reform

We believe Free and Fair elections are fundamental to democracy in our country. Young people often find themselves disenfranchised due to residency laws, lack of education, and the transitory nature of youth. The federal government should encourage young people to participate in the democratic process. We further believe the federal government should set realistic and reliable standards for election administration to ensure fair, accurate, and accessible vote casting and counting, coupled with federal grants to state and local governments to assist with compliance.

Click here to read more about positions we support and oppose in the 2011-2013 Platform of the Young Democrats of America

Economic Policy

We believe free and fair trade offers a course for sustainable growth throughout the global economy to the benefit of the United States, our allies, and the impoverished nations of the world.

Click here to read more about positions we support and oppose in our 2011-2013 Platform

Labor

We believe in expanding collective bargaining throughout our modern, service-based economy to maintain economic flexibility and to build economic opportunity, while vigorously defending a century’s worth of hard-fought progress and protections won by the American worker united in purpose and organized in action.

Click here to read more about positions we support and oppose in our 2011-2013 Platform

Social Security

We believe Social Security has been the most successful and visionary social program in American history. We are proud to claim its legacy and its compact with the American people as our own, and we will fight to ensure that Americans enjoy the benefits of this program for generations to come, defending it from all efforts to weaken the social safety net and to render the system any less secure.

Click here to read more about positions we support and oppose in our 2011-2013 Platform

The Federal Budget

We believe leadership requires responsible stewardship of public resources on behalf of our nation’s future that restrains growth in government spending while protecting the adequacy and sustainability of government revenue. We believe that an individual’s tax burden should be tied directly to his or her ability to pay, progressive in character and in spirit with reasonable checks within the system to avoid fraud and abuse.

Click here to read more about positions we support and oppose in our 2011-2013 Platform

Poverty

We believe government is a valuable tool in addressing and ultimately eliminating the worst forms of economic hardship in modern society. We believe government has an indispensable role in empowering individuals with the tools to take responsibility for bettering themselves. Moreover, through investment in education, community building, and targeted efforts to expand economic opportunities for children from impoverished backgrounds, we believe government can be a powerful force in alleviating the destructive cycle of poverty that traps so many in hopelessness and despair from too young an age.

Click here to read more about positions we support and oppose in our 2011-2013 Platform

International Affairs and National Security

We believe the U.S. foreign policy should promote liberty, democracy and opportunity throughout the world in a truly collaborative fashion with our allies, shunning unilateralism and living up to our responsibility to the international community as its last remaining superpower. We believe in the power of diplomacy as the surest means of advancing our strategic goals and our national interests, while placing enormous hope for a more peaceful global existence by leading and by working faithfully within such international institutions as the United Nations.

Click here to read more about positions we support and oppose in our 2011-2013 Platform

Immigration

We believe that the United States must continue to stand as a beacon of hope for those yearning for freedom and opportunity around the world. We are proud of America’s history and tradition as a nation of immigrants and believe it essential to our vitality and character that we maintain our openness and our welcoming spirit to those from every walk of life who come seeking the promise for which our country stands. Nevertheless, we believe secure borders and enforcement of labor laws are absolutely essential if the United States is ever again to have a functional immigration system. Liberal immigration policies bring benefits both economic and cultural, but we believe these benefits will not be enjoyed to their fullest without immigration policies that are more reliable, fairer, and more secure than in their present form.

Click here to read more about positions we support and oppose in our 2011-2013 Platform

Homeland Security

We believe that the concept of homeland security extends beyond terrorism to include natural disasters, maintaining and improving critical infrastructure, and citizen education. Our government must fulfill its obligation to protect its citizens from foreign and domestic dangers while upholding the freedoms and ideals on which this nation was founded and on which it still stands.

Click here to read more about positions we support and oppose in our 2011-2013 Platform

Criminal Justice

We believe laws are the foundation of an orderly society and that abiding by them is beneficial to all Americans and essential to the functioning of a civil society. We also recognize that there are currently more people incarcerated in the United States than in any other nation the world. We strive to create a society where laws are followed, applied with consistency and equality, and with rehabilitation, not incarceration, as the primary focus.

Click here to read more about positions we support and oppose in our 2011-2013 Platform

Civil Justice

We believe that all Americans should have the opportunity to achieve the American Dream. We recognize, however, that systematic discrimination continues to plague our country.

Click here to read more about positions we support and oppose in our 2011-2013 Platform

Civil and Human Rights

We believe all Americans deserve equal rights and equal treatment under the law. We are a pluralistic society where all people should be treated with respect and dignity.

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Family

We believe our society and government should treat all families equally, whether traditional or non-traditional, and support them to build stronger communities.

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Health and Social Issues

We believe that securing a health care system that values people before profits is vital to the general welfare of our nation. We believe in universal access to affordable, quality health care, reflecting patient preferences and sensitivities.

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Science and Technology

We believe scientific progress has fundamentally changed and will continue to improve the quality of human life. We advocate the continued responsible use and advancement of technology as a force for good in the world.

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Environment

We believe that safeguarding the environment is a fundamental human responsibility, and that protecting the integrity of the world we live in is critical to the health, safety, and richness of life of present and future generations of Americans and inhabitants of all nations. We further believe that increased environmental protections can be achieved in ways that create jobs and benefit all levels of the economy.

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Natural Resources

We believe our national parks, seacoasts, coastlines, and waterways are among our greatest assets. The government has a responsibility to maintain and to protect these national treasures, and to encourage long-term sustainability.

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Energy

We believe that our future lies with clean energy, which will reduce pollution, diversify our national energy sources, promote national security, create jobs and investment, and provide Americans with huge cost savings. Thus, we urge a strong national commitment to a clean energy future.

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Rural Issues

We believe that as the party of opportunity for all Americans, we must work to build strong rural communities that are vibrant places to live, work and play.

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Urban Issues 

We believe urban areas and communities are economic, cultural, and social epicenters which are vital to our country’s wellbeing. Urban centers have the highest population density and they contain the highest percentage of poverty. These areas are rich in history and diverse, and we support their continued preservation.

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Education

We believe high quality education is fundamental to a vigilant democracy and a strong economy. Further, public schools bring together families of diverse experience, ability, and backgrounds for the common purpose of learning. Public education should be the ultimate equalizer. As Democrats it is our top priority to mobilize all communities to eliminate the socio-economic achievement gap apparent in America today.

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Agriculture

We believe agriculture is a vital part of the lives of all Americans and directly impacts the health and security of the nation. It is a fundamental piece of the United States economy and an important cultural asset.

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