Given the current debate regarding the rescinding of the program allowing 700,000 immigrants brought to the United States as children, a lot more attention has been brought to DACA/undocumented and ways to provide aid to them. Several offices of the university held a conference mid-July to provide workshops to staff on how to help these students stuck in this state of uncertainty. Offices like the general counsel, international center, the Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives, and the Office of the Vice President were all participating at these workshops.
The National Forum was one of the participating organizations providing a presentation on the best practices in assisting DACA/undocumented students. Here, the purpose of our goals and research were presented, in addition to a panel of students talking about their experiences at the institution. I was one of those students.
It was a challenging and emotional experience. Two days this conference held meant two times that I had to encounter and become completely vulnerable to a crowd of people I didn’t know. It involved opening up about a lot of my struggles that, for the most part, I have kept to myself and have avoided mentally. However, it was also a powerful experience. I had a platform for my voice to be heard and possibly better the experiences of other DACA/Undocumented students who have overcome obstacles and earned to be at this university. It is a vulnerable position that I have put myself in even in writing this blog post, but something needs to change. You can’t let fear hold you back when there are so many more people who don’t have the protection and privilege of deferred action that I have to speak.
It was very encouraging to see staff interested and wanting to learn more to help students like myself. A lot has changed since I first started attending this university. For a while, having to keep this inside, not knowing who to trust; therefore, I deprived myself of the help that I really needed specific to this identity. Now there are signs at ‘some’ offices, messages of support, and visible resources for students to access without hesitation. Although, I could have used this a while ago since now that I’m a senior, I am lucky to now have a network of students, mentors, and staff. There is still some work to be done, but I finally am starting to feel secure and welcome, rather than being afraid and hidden.
Now, we’re all just trying to get by, while we wait for a decision that could save or hurt us. Perhaps, people can find the compassion to support their fellow peers, coworkers, classmates, neighbors, and members of this country. People who want to contribute to the country they were raised in, all starting with the sacrifices of the original dreamers that brought them here.