Highlight: Undocumented Student Services

By Sara Vargas

Offeringinclusion and support

The DREAMer’s Ally Network continues to grow as a service to support undocumented students on campus.

Currently, there are more than 150 allies and about 15 liaisons that are regularly involved with the network.

The program is a network of faculty, staff and students who have designated themselves as allies per Assembly Bill 540, a California state law, which allows students who meet specific requirements to pay in-state tuition fees at any UC, Cal State or community college.

According to Coordinator of Undocumented Students Services Mike Pedro, the network serves as a support system for undocumented students who are seeking out safe and welcoming spaces.

“The purpose is to create a visible force on campus for students to be aware of the places they can go to and people they can talk to,” said Pedro.

Those around Cal Poly Pomona who are allies have placards visible in their offices that identify them as a part of the network.

“If you see a placard, it is like saying, ‘I’m an ally, and I’m advocating for students,'” said Pedro.

“It’s really nice to walk around and see the placards because I know that I can go to them if necessary,” said Diana Ascencio, a fifth-year undocumented student studying human resources and management and Chicano studies.

The network started in 2012 when issues about undocumented students became more apparent.

Undocumented students belonging to the Cesar E. Chavez Center for Higher Education and the Asian and Pacific Islander Student Center were facing problems and wanted more information regarding their rights.

The DREAMer’s Ally Network training was then created for those interested in coming together to support undocumented students.

The training consists of information about laws, current issues, student experiences and what it means to be an ally.

“They also had a student panel in which the panelists gave a short background story of themselves and their hopes as students here,” said Stephanie Garcia, a third-year food science and technology student.

As a panelist, Ascencio benefited from telling her story during a training.

“At first it was scary, but that was the first time I told my story,” said Ascencio. “It felt good because I was in a comfortable space surrounded by people who wanted to help.”

“The message behind these trainings is to show students that CPP supports people of all backgrounds, including undocumented students,” said Pedro.

Throughout the years, resources offered have evolved in various ways due to changing laws and new incoming students.

“Allyship is very important because it is a continuous process,” said Pedro.

One of the goals with dealing with the changes is continuing to stay educated, “to stay in the loop,” as Pedro referred.

If you are interested in becoming a part of the DREAMer’s Ally Network, a quarterly training is scheduled for April 19 from noon to 2 p.m. in the Orion Suite at the Bronco Student Center.

Know your rights under law

Undocumented Student Services hosted a joint Know Your Rights workshop and Immigration Clinic Thursday to inform undocumented students about their constitutional rights in the United States as well as provide students with free legal counsel.

The Know Your Rights workshop took place at the Bronco Student Center during U-Hour followed by free immigration consultations with licensed immigration attorneys from 1-5 p.m.

As of 2016, approximately 550 undocumented Cal Poly Pomona students were approved under the California Assembly Bill 540.

Thanks to this bill, undocumented students are allowed to pay in-state tuition fees at CPP.

While this bill provides financial relief for some, it does not provide undocumented students with legal status.

This leaves many undocumented students feeling unprotected and at a loss for where to find resources.

Undocumented Student Services aims to change that with their Immigration Clinics.

Modeled after immigration clinics at other universities, the goal is to bring lawyers and legal support to those who don’t have access to either within their communities.

In doing so, Undocumented Student Services wants to help undocumented students feel empowered when it comes to navigating their legal status.

“Every student is different, some folks might be seeking visas, some might be seeking asylum or a path to citizenship,” said Undocumented Students Services Coordinator Mike Pedro.

To ease the process, the event broke down information into essential information undocumented students should know.

Among these topics were understanding the constitutional rights afforded to both documented and undocumented students, immigration law and the resources provided both on and off campus.

Both the workshop and clinic were met with positive feedback from students.

In fact, both sections reached capacity and organizers had to turn students away.

“Some of the literature we handed out can help educate others about their rights, pass this information along to their communities,” said Pedro.

Undocumented Student Services provides students with resources beyond the Immigration Clinic, including support filing for AB540, walking students through scholarships and answering questions students may have about the DREAM act.

A volunteer helping students at the first Undocumented Student Services event.

Kayla Anderson / The Poly Post

A volunteer helping students at the first Undocumented Student Services event.

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