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Thursday, September 24, 2020

A hopeful future

Immigration, deportation and personal experiences were discussed in the Great Hall during a panel discussion for the book “Dreams Deported: Immigrant Youth and Families Resist Deportation” on Monday, Oct. 30.

Shigueru Tsuha, a sociology Instructor, organized the event, which focused on topics such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), immigration, deportation, and personal experiences of what it is like growing up as undocumented students in California.

Staff from the UCLA Labor Center spoke to Pierce students about the uncertainty within the immigrant community.

“Dreams Deported: Immigrant Youth and Families Resist Deportation” is the third book from the UCLA Labor Center that focuses on immigration and the immigrant youth movement.

“The movement that we are leading right now couldn’t be more important and critical, not only for us as immigrant young people, but for our broader immigrant community,” Director of the Dream Resource Center at the UCLA Labor Center Diego Sepulveda said.   

The Dream Summer program, ran by the UCLA Dream Resource Center, is a program that continues to build a pipeline of immigrant youth leaders to continue the advocacy, Sepulveda said.

“We all play a role in our communities. We all play a role on our college campuses to ensure that we fight for resources and to ensure that we are visible,” Sepulveda said. “The work that we do in our communities and with our students, it’s critical to say that the deportation of our immigrant communities is unacceptable.”

The DACA retraction left many students with unanswered questions. Tusha said the purpose of the panel discussion was to let those students know that there is a future here for them.

“The future of immigrant youth and their families has always been uncertain,” Tsuha said. “This is especially true today because DACA has been rescinded. The “Dreams Deported: Immigrant Youth and Families Resist Deportation” is not just a book about the pain of deportation and family separation, but also about hope and inspiration.”

Mayra Castro, a UCLA Dream Summer alumna, said she doesn’t identify as a dreamer because she thinks it groups and excludes immigrants.

“It categorizes us into this mold of the “perfect immigrant.” That’s a dreamer, an undocumented student who is trying to pursue higher education,” Castro said. “It leaves out every other person, like our parents, who have not been able to pursue higher education. It’s a term that was coined by the government to, again, categorize us into this group of people. I think it’s important to change the narrative, if we just comply with them addressing us as a dreamer we are fueling their narrative.”

Yael Pineda, a volunteer at the UCLA Labor Center, said using the correct terminology when talking about immigrants is important.

“Definitely not using the “I” word, because we are not illegal. A human being can not be illegal; that’s just an illogical statement,” Pineda said. “Educate undocumented folks on the dignity and justice that they deserve, because we are human beings.”

Tsuha said the recent drop in undocumented students enrolling in college is due to the fear of what is happening at the federal level.

“I want our students to feel comfortable in our campus, and because we have a political atmosphere that is anti-immigrant, it’s even more important,” Tsuha said. “One thing we can do as faculty, is make sure that these students understand that they’re welcome. I want to contribute to an atmosphere welcoming undocumented students.”

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