Undocumented Students Week at Pierce

The Dream Resource Center (DRC) provided support to Pierce’s undocumented students during Undocumented Student Action Week (USAW), which ran from Oct. 15-18.

DRC Instructor Kimberly Castillo said the DRC’s goal was to give students the tools they need for success both in and out of school.

“I’m happy it’s a whole week long because we can really show [students] that we’re here for them,” Castillo said. “I want students to know that we have support on campus and dedicated people to help them.”

Tuesday’s event was the Know Your Rights workshop, a presentation by a representative from the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA).

CHIRLA Regional Field Coordinator Elizabeth Alcantar discussed immigration laws, programs for undocumented students and ways to interact with law enforcement.

Alcantar emphasized the importance of knowing and exercising one’s rights.

“Even in the age of Trump, there are still rights that we have regardless of immigration status,” Alcantar said. “Using your rights actually matters and will protect you.”

People are more likely to remember their rights through practice, according to Alcantar. In addition to educating themselves, Alcantar encouraged students to practice exercising methods, such as remaining silent and knowing what to say to law enforcement 

“People come out feeling more empowered about what they can actually do,” Alcantar said. 

Yajaira Garcia, president of the Improving Dreams Equality Access and Success for all students club, said that the workshop gave people “all the information that they didn’t know they needed.”

She said USAW and access to the DRC have helped to empower undocumented students.

“They feel more welcome and they feel heard,” Garcia said. “They know exactly what to do moving forward.”

Wednesday’s events will be an entrepreneurship webinar in the DRC and a Dream Act Workshop in the Center for Academic Success computer lab. 

The webinar, The UndocuHustle: Building Something Out of Nothing, will be about how to start a business.

Castillo said the DRC wants to show students that they have entrepreneurship opportunities regardless of immigration status.

“I wanted to empower students,” Castillo said. “They could do it if they really wanted to.”

The DREAM Act workshop will give students assistance in filling out DREAM Act applications. A representative from the Financial Aid Office will answer questions and provide hands-on support, according to Castillo.

Thursday’s event is geared toward staff and faculty. Castillo said Counselor Jeanette Maduena will discuss raising awareness of and enhancing service to undocumented students.

USAW will close on Friday with a screening of the movie “Under the Same Moon”  by director Patricia Riggen, which tells the immigrant story of a Mexican-American mother and son.

Although USAW was created with undocumented students in mind, the events are open to the entire campus, according to Castillo.

“You don’t have to be one thing or the other to attend,” Castillo said. “If you just want the information or are an ally, you’re welcome.”

USAW events were sponsored by the Community College League of California (League), according to Castillo. The League provided California community colleges with resources and guidelines on what types of events to run, according to Castillo.

USAW is a statewide campaign “committed to serving all students, regardless of immigration status,” according to the League.

Castillo said the DRC plans to continue having USAW annually to give undocumented students continuous academic and personal assistance.

“We can really show students that as a campus, we’re supportive,” Castillo said.