A speakout hosted by DREAMers at UCI and the Student Outreach and Resources Center last Tuesday undocumented students to share their experiences and struggles with trying to pursue a higher education.
The event started at noontime with a small group of six students chanting “Undocumented and unafraid! What so we want? Immigration reform! When do we want it? Now!” Slowly, but surely, more students descended upon the flagpoles.
Ana Barragan, DREAMers coordinator for SOAR, illustrated the scarcity of undocumented students through an interactive activity. She congratulated undocumented students, saying that they are the 5 percent of undocumented youth their age to receive a higher education.
She explained that there are only 414 undocumented undergraduate students attending UCI, seven graduate students and one Ph.D candidate. Barragan said that the struggles that undocumented students face contribute to their scarce numbers.
Allen Rene Fonteyn, a fourth-year chemistry major, was born in Mexico along with his sister. Abandoned during his early childhood, he worked for most of his childhood, often toiling for 12 hours a day, seven days a week.
“We only knew suffering,” Fonteyn said.
He recounted the struggles of crossing the border only to work hard jobs here as well. Despite dreaming of becoming a doctor and serving immigrants like him, he said that going through community college and entering UCI was filled with strife as well.
The stairs by the flagpoles were full of students listening to Fonteyn’s speech.
Three speakers were also testament to the fact that not being undocumented is not an just an issue for Latino students. Bo Daraphant, Mohammed Majrashi and Ryan Kim were all undocumented students from Thailand, Saudi Arabia and Korea.
Majrashi originally came to the US to treat a rare illness he had as a child and stayed to continue being treated.
Daraphant said that he is the only undocumented person in his family due to a scam his family fell prey to when he immigrated to America.
After the speakers had concluded, students engaged in one final activity where they linked arms and stepped forward to answer a round of questions.
Abraham Medina, a community member, poet and former undocumented student said “they can never stop the heart that pumps the blood of this revolution.”