DREAMer’s Welcome Day, a resource and welcome event for undocumented students, took place last Thursday in the Dr. White Room of the Cross-Cultural Center.
Organized by Ana Miriam Barragan, UC Irvine’s DREAMers coordinator, the Welcome Day provided undocumented students information and resources from community organizations.
According to Barragan, there are over 400 undocumented students on campus.
The event hosted community-based organizations including Orange County Immigrant Youth United, the Korean Resource Center, RAIZ (Resistencia, Autonomia, Igualdad, Liderazgo) and De Colores Queer Orange County.
Additionally, campus organizations were also present, including DREAMS (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) at UCI, the Counseling Center, the financial aid office and the Asian Pacific Student Association.
Rosemary Gomez, treasurer for the Orange County Immigrant Youth United and a third-year political science major, gave attendees information on the organization’s campaigns in the county.
“One is ICE OUT of OC, where we’re working to end all collaborations between police departments and immigration and law enforcement. We’re working on #Not1More campaign, which is also focused on stopping deportations because we’ve reached a record number of deportations with the Obama administration. Part of that also goes into our advocacy for administrative relief expansion,” said Gomez.
“And the other one is #Health4All campaign, which is a bill that will provide access to health care for the undocumented community.”
Other organizations were on hand to answer questions, one of which was RAIZ.
Claudia Perez, a member of the organization and a third-year student, said that the organization’s goal is to stop the deportation of undocumented immigrants.
“If we figure out why it is that people are getting deported, then we’ll be able to do some changes around Orange County, but until then (…) the only thing that we’re doing is trying to stop deportation.”
The last community organization present at the event was De Colores Queer Orange County. Ferny Botello, a fifth-year, explained that it’s “an activist group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Latinos and Latinas.
“What we do is we work with the community in providing a space,” said Botello.
On the issue with immigration, Botello revealed that some of the members of the organization are undocumented. She pointed out the fear among members of being detained.
“When somebody gets detained, and they identify as gay, bisexual, lesbian, transgender and they’re sent there, a lot of times they don’t have communication with their families.”
Barragan also gave a short speech covering future where she covered future plans involving the DREAMers Advocate Program. Specific points, such as outreach and recruitment, were considered crucial to the committee, and study groups were planned for Week 4 onward.
Plans also included workshops, scholarship jams and a DREAMer’s support group for the fall quarter.
Sarai Herrera, a member of DREAMS at UCI and a second-year political science major, spoke about her experience as an undocumented student. When asked about her status as an undocumented student, Herrera revealed the fears she experienced.
“I came here when I was six. I have always been aware of my status. It never really hits you until something exactly affects you, and I think this happened when I was applying for school,” Herrera said, echoing a moment of consciousness experienced by many undocumented students.
“It was really stressful because you have certain fears and reservations about even the smallest things. I was scared that nobody would accept me. So I applied to public schools, private schools, Cal States, UCs, every possible school system.”
Barragan, the DREAMers Coordinator, also revealed her undocumented status.
“I am the only undocumented DREAMers coordinator in all the UCs. So UCI’s definitely making a change and taking a stand by hiring me and knowing that I’m a DACA recipient,” she said, referring to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy that protects undocumented individuals from being deported if they arrived in the U.S. when they were children.
“I recently arrived to UCI, I’ve been here for about two months and I was hired two months ago. I am a DREAMers Coordinator, which means I will be working with students who self-identify as DREAMers, documented, undocumented. Really, if they don’t need a label, I don’t need to label them either.”
Regarding the future, Barragan said she has very high hopes for the university to continue taking a stand for its undocumented students, despite many students’ fears.
“I know some students don’t feel comfortable coming out to a lot of the faculty and staff. My goal is to educate and inform faculty and staff about the students’ issues, what they go through, what their needs are, and how they can become allies.”