Student org joins movement for undocumented citizens

Emily Lepkowski, News Editor

The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater DREAM Scholars and Colleagues (DSC) took action to celebrate the national #IAmAnImmigrant campaign on Nov.1, with the hopes to spread awareness at other Wisconsin universities.

“Hopefully other Wisconsin universities see that’s the big thing and then they cannot necessarily join this campaign, but we just want them to be aware,” Miguel Aranda university honors program associate and former Latinos Unidos president said.

DSC used social media to spread the word as well as handed out #IAmAnImmigrant movement T-shirts on campus on Nov. 1.

The group also took pictures with Chancellor Beverly Kopper and Provost Susan Elrod, who joined in support.

DSC president Natalia Hernandez was pleased to see students interested in the campaign and immigration dialogue.

“Support is really big which is surprising because on a regular day you don’t know that these people support the cause until you actually go to them,” said Hernandez. “In order to make change people have to go out of their way to make those contacts and so the support has been really great.”

DSC’s mission is to help students who may be categorized as undocumented without choosing a side.

“We’re not any sort of political side we try to stay away from that as much as possible were humanitarian in what we are trying to do,” Aranda said.

DSC took the opportunity to celebrate the campaign after being in contact with the Chicago chapter, who were playing a big role in raising awareness.

“Some of them don’t even know that they’re undocumented until they are 18 and their parents just spill everything,” Aranda said. “Because sometimes they have in mind that I’m going to go to college and I’m going to do all this and I’m going to get a job and sometimes the parents don’t tell them because they want to protect them and kind of keep them in that world.”

The process to gain documentation is a task that can take a long time with many different variables.

“A lot of people say get in line to get your visa and you know there is no line,” Aranda said.

In some countries those who receive a Visa are those who have money or connections, while others without those resources have a tougher time.

The #IAmAnImmigrant campaign started from a group called FWD.us that was founded in 2013 by a group of technology and business innovators, like co-founder, Mark Zuckerberg.

UW-W is one coalition partner of FWD.us combining with Harvard, who are on the list with top schools Yale, Dartmouth and Duke.

“It’s kind of our thing we’re really passionate about so to see this on a national website with people like Mark Zuckerberg and people from these Ivy league schools proves that our work does not go unseen,” Hernandez said.

Wisconsin used to charge in-state tuition for undocumented students but now charges out-of- state tuition.

Aranda said when undocumented students try to go to college, it’s part of the immigration reform.

“Immigration is so complex and we’re a student org, realistically, we wouldn’t be able to change  anything at the federal level,” Aranda said. “So one of our main goals is because Wisconsin used to have in state tuition so if they used to have it, that seems like our most tangible goal.”

DSC does fundraising for students as well as assists them in paying the tuition difference.

Besides providing tuition equity, Hernandez also wants faculty and staff to know how they can join the conversation.

“We are part of a nation of immigrants and eventually, maybe in the future, there may not be a need for DREAM Scholars and Colleagues because of the fact that we accomplished our goals,” Hernandez said.

Students are welcome to join the organization without being a DREAM Scholar or of immigrant heritage.

DSC also accepts donations and can be contacted at uww.edu.

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