California to assist unregistered students
February 15, 2017
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Following last November’s presidential election, many questions arose about what would happen to many of the policies that were established during the Obama administration. One that has been a hot topic is the issue of immigration.
The issue of immigration itself is exceedingly broad, with currently a dominant focus around deportations, rejection of refugees, and the construction of a wall along the southern border of the U.S. In colleges and universities across California, the focus is on the protection and the safety of its undocumented students.
Many colleges have designated programs to aid these students with the proper resources, Bakersfield College among them.
The Latinos Unidos Por Educacion (LUPE) is a BC program that supports first generation students with educational, financial, and career advice. The program functions to encourage these students to continue their education. It also serves as a support group for students who remain in fear and uncertainty about their immigration status.
Manuel Rosas and Pedro Ramirez, coordinators of the program, have a lot of hopes and plans for this group of students.
Ramirez stated that one of the most important things is for students to know the difference between the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the DREAM Act, and the California Assembly Bill 540, as this helps students identify what resources and aid they are eligible to receive. He also stated that it is important for students to understand that none of these determine their legal immigration status in the country.
DACA is a policy established in 2012 that allows certain illegal immigrants who entered the country as minors to obtain renewable temporary relief from deportation as well as a permit to work legally. President Trump stated during his campaign that he would deport illegal immigrants and terminate DACA, which left thousands of students in fear of having to end their education. Even though what the president wants to do with DACA still remains unspecified, both Rosas and Ramirez assure that students in California should not fear as they will be granted full support wherever they decide to obtain a higher education.
“The Chancellor’s office from all community colleges, all the main leadership from the Cal State system, and the UC system have come out and declared that they are still going to support undocumented students,” said Rosas. “The California Dream Act, AB540, in-state tuition, scholarships, and grants will all be supported because it’s all California based. No one will be turned down.”
“It doesn’t matter what happens in the next few weeks, or the next few years. The Board of Governors has already said that they will support these students,” stated Ramirez. “If DACA goes
away, students can still apply for BOG and Cal Grants and other California financial aid, because all DACA is, is a work permit and temporary protection from being deported.”
In the state of California, students are allowed to apply for the California Dream Act and be considered an AB540 student. The California Dream Act allows undocumented students to apply and receive in-state financial aid and scholarships. The Assembly Bill 540 is a California law that permits any student who was born outside the state to pay in-state tuition fees at any college and university as long as they attended a California high school for three or more years.
With that in mind, LUPE is designed to make these students aware about what options are available to them. Ramirez stated that a lot of students refrain from registering for classes because they have the mentality that because they are undocumented, they automatically don’t qualify for anything. Many of them also hesitate to apply for anything with the fear that their information will be in the hands of someone who may potentially want to deport them.
“We ultimately want to connect them with other dreamers on campus and members of the community for the support,” said Rosas. “We do so by offering workshops for the students. We’ve assigned people from the community to come out and speak to them about their services and what they offer.”
They mentioned that some local organizations have offered scholarships as well as job opportunities during the summer. This increases their confidence by knowing that there are people and organizations that want to offer them help.
“When people hear the term Dreamers, they automatically think Mexicans,” stated Ramirez. “Our name does say Latinos, but the program is open to everyone, regardless of their immigration and ethnic status. We have Indian and Filipino students as well.”
Their goal is to have more diversity to strengthen the group. They state that they are confident that these students will strive as they have shown to be some of the most hardworking because they treat education as an urgency to better themselves and their families.
“This program is just people like us, counselors, faculty and staff that are simply passionate about helping this population on campus,” stated Rosas.
More information on BC’s LUPE program can be found at www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/sse/dreamers.