In honor of Social Science Week, the Social Science Dean’s Ambassadors Program hosted their “Dreamer Fair” last Thursday, an event where students got to learn and experience the stories of undocumented immigrants. Attendees viewed the multiple boards that decorated the Social Science Plaza, filled with informative faculty and student-led research about undocumented immigrants. The fair also gave passersby the opportunities to interact with professors, the student-led Sapphire Club, as well as the Dreamers’ Resource center, all while listening to fun music and eating pizza.
Fourth-year Stephanie Palmer, a member of the Social Science Dean’s Ambassadors Council, explained the meaning of the event. Besides the fair being a way to “facilitate faculty and student interaction,” Palmer also explained that the event sought to provide clarity for any current confusion around DACA expiring on March 5, explain new research, and provide support for the existing undocumented students at UCI.
“What I wanted to do was bring awareness [due to] how unclear it is right now,” Palmer said. “In March, we don’t know if the students are going to re-apply to DACA, so a lot of students are losing their funding for school because they won’t be able to do work-study. What we wanted to do was to create an event that [brought] knowledge out, and with UCI having such a heavy population of undocumented immigrants, we also wanted to make sure that they felt supported and included, and make sure that we recognize the difficulties that they go through.”
Students got to meet with Professor Laura Enriquez and Ph.D. student Vanessa Delgado, who presented research involving some of the barriers undocumented student face. The board, which read: “How Can Universities Foster Educational Equity for Undocumented College Students”, contained a UCI-wide study outlining problems such students face which are: undocumented student services, persisting financial need, academic distraction, need for mental health services, and limited post-graduate preparation.
Enriquez and Delgado explained the study, and what they found.
“[The] academic distraction is getting worse, now that Trump has been elected,” Enriquez said. “In addition to having to navigate the stress of being undocumented, there’s also being a student, and having tons of tests and all this reading to do, and you’re also more likely to be distracted because of issues going on around immigration.”
With interactions like these, students were able to learn not just facts, but what’s been done in terms of research, and also what they can do to help.