A Week to Highlight Undocumented Students

Saddleback College hosts its 2nd annual event, to support and honor undocumented students in our community

“Undocumented Students of Action Week” recognizes the butterfly as the symbol for the annual event.

California Community Colleges are “committed to serve all students, regardless of immigration status,” and to highlight undocumented students and our fellow classmates on campus who are effected by racial transgressions and limitations to further obtain a citizenship. The event is “to help create a pathway for citizenship and to address current challenges facing our undocumented students.” Undocumented Students of Action Week, kicks off its 2nd annual event at Saddleback from Oct. 14-18.

On Monday, the keynote speaker for the week Dr. Daniel G. Solórzano, UCLA Professor of Social Science and Comparative Education, has numerous awards in social justice for education, speaks on what everyday racism is on and off campus. Solórzano  informs on racial microaggressions or racial incidents that occur every day. The data collected by the professor for over thirty years through the study of social sciences, informs that 35% of racial incidents occur in schools, out all racial incidents recorded every year in the United States. Racial microaggressions include poor racial climate, racial divide, racial segregation, gerrymandering, limit people of color to have the limited access to live peacefully, register, or to apply for citizenship.

The professor’s main inspiration to be involved in social science began by reading an article of a close friend, and colleague, Chester Pierce. Pierce was a psychiatrist, past-president of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and the American Orthopsychiatry Association and a psychiatric consultant for the children’s TV show, Sesame Street

“One must not look onto the gross and obvious. The subtle, cumulative mini assault is the substance of today’s racism,” said Pierce in the article, affected Solórzano deeply. It was this quote that sparked the inspiration igniting Solórzano to eventually become a professor at UCLA and drove him to notice the mini assaults happening all around him. This lead Solórzano to author more than 60 articles, book chapters and reports on issues of educational access and equity for underrepresented minority populations in the United States.

To combat these issues of racism, Solórzano pointed to microaffirmations or ways to provide people of color a chance of having a racial identity or to feel accepted in society, which aid against microaggressions. Without this aid, may lead to racial fatigue or even a cause of death. For the inclusion and representation is to affirm ones race, and could help physical, cultural and the mental health of an individual, a testimony to Pierce’s inspiration.

“You put a name for my pain,” said by a crying student to Solórzano’s in previous on campus discussion at UC Davis. Solórzano’s further explains that from a prior event, a student had come forward and to him, and put a name to the racist acts of microaggressions that have occurred throughout her life. The 30-year professor argues that microaggressions directly or indirectly affect an individual of color. Just overhearing the racial act indirectly affects another individual of color.

The United States has a history of racial microagressions, Solórzano points to Operation Wetback, which used the offensive term for a new policy on immigration, created from the multitude of Mexican immigrants who traversed the Rio Grande to illegally cross the border between Mexico and the United States. U.S. immigration law enforcement campaign during the summer of 1954 resulted in the mass deportation, for most estimates 300,000 Mexican nationals (1.1 million persons according to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). Vetted by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the operation was to stem the flow of illegal and undocumented Mexican workers into the United States and to discourage the employers who harbored such workers.

The plan was met with resistance from some legislators as well as from agricultural and farming groups that lobbied Congress. Arguing that an employer of illegal workers should be punished. Ultimately, Congress failed to pass legislation authorizing punishment for those who hired illegal workers, but it did allocate increased funding for the Border Patrol.
But through the Bracero Program from 1942 to 1960, due to WWII and limited agriculture workers, the U.S. government, with cooperation with Mexican government, allowed short-term contract laborers from Mexico, known as braceros, to work legally in the United States. For this didn’t solve the immigration problem, but showed that the country needed cheap labor, regardless of their new operation. Many employers in the agricultural industries still needed the work of immigrants in order to adequately meet demands and compete in the marketplace.

Today, nearly one in ten California workers is an undocumented immigrant. This is the second-highest statewide concentration of undocumented workers (9.0%) in the US after Nevada (10.4%), according to the Pew Research Center (PRC) in 2014.

In 2016, LA metro areas have 925,000 undocumented immigrants, 2nd in the U.S. population. Five out of the 20 metros with the largest undocumented immigrant populations are in California: Los Angeles, Riverside-San Bernardino, San Francisco, San Diego and San Jose.
Student volunteers spoke upon its growth from its previous year. For the year before included a student workshop, voter registration, and a film screening.  In addition to this year’s event, a guest speaker, more workshops, and daily webinars for teachers, not just students.

The organizers of the event support community colleges by planning their own action week by providing suggested activities, materials, resources, and more. The events partners funded statewide by the California Colleges Chancellor’s office, the Community College League of California, the Foundation for California Community Colleges, Immigrants Rising, and the Student Senate for California Community Colleges.

Workshops on Tuesday and Wednesday included student artwork, informational bulletins of the week’s event, free butterfly buttons (the events symbol) and a free book, Undocumented by Dan-El Padilla Peralta, while supplies last. And any info on how to apart of CCC for undocumented students, please visit here.

Webinars were available Monday-Friday, that includes informational events that help aid undocumented students on and off campus. Informing undocumented students on how to enter college and how to stay. Get resources on ways to protect oneself and family members from deportation. Hear testimonies of undocumented youth who successfully built their careers. Panels for undocumented youth leaders share strategies for harnessing fear through art, therapy, and resistance. Or learn how the undocumented youth movement used art and politics together, to create activism, and participate in art making. All webinars were recorded and are conveniently free here.

On Thursday, the film screening of Documented (2013) was shown a part of the weekly event. The story of 2011, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Jose Antonio Vargas who outed himself as an undocumented immigrant in the New York Times Magazine. Vargas unknowingly moved to the U.S. as a child from the Philippines, leaving his mother and sister behind. Being raised by his grandparents, in Silicon Valley, California, Vargas became interested in journalism by his teachers who noticed Vargas liked to ask questions. This led Vargas to become a journalist for the New Yorker, Boston Globe, Time Magazine, and more. Chronologically telling the story of the immigrant, who is trying to become a U.S. citizen, through congressional talks, and separated from his loved ones in the Philippines. The documentary was presented by CNN films and Define America.

Trump on his 2016 campaign trail, regularly used “illegal aliens,” referring to undocumented immigrants in the United States. As president-elect, he blamed Germany about taking in “all these illegals.” from the Middle East. Now in the White House, his controversial travel ban orders federal agencies to swiftly send “illegal aliens” back to their home countries.

University of Memphis journalism Professor Thomas Hrach conducted a study of 122,000 news stories published between 2000 and 2010, to determine which terms are being used to describe foreign nationals in the U.S. who are out of status. Hrach found that 89% of the time during this period, journalists used the biased terms “illegal immigrant” and “illegal alien.” The term undocumented is still being associated with the term illegal, without any knowledge of the individual’s status.

In the Washington Post’s style book, it says “illegal immigrant” is accurate and acceptable, but notes that some its journalists find it offensive. The Post does not refer to people as “illegal aliens” or “illegals,” per its guidelines. But its style book, like many publications, the term “illegal” is not inaccurate.

An avenue for undocumented immigrants to obtain legal status upon those who came to the US as undocumented children to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and become eligible for a work permit in the United States, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. DACA has provided a pathway for 200,000 undocumented immigrants in California, to receive a work permit. Individuals from the age of 29, or under can apply for a work permit.

The future of the DACA program is very much uncertain. President Trump and some members of Congress have vowed to fight the program. The Supreme Court is due to hold a hearing Nov. 12 to decide on the legality of Trump’s order on the program formally known as the DACA, after lower courts have forced the Trump administration to continue issuing renewals of it.
Some California city and county leaders have stated that they will provide sanctuary for undocumented immigrants—this refers to limiting local assistance to federal immigration enforcement. However, no sanctuary policy can universally prevent deportations.

Sanctuary Counties and City in Southern California include Los Angeles and Riverside County that will not honor an ICE detainer. The city of Santa Ana will not use any funds to assist immigration enforcement. And San Diego County will not honor ICE detainer, unless presented with an arrest warrant based on a probable cause finding by ICE. In cases where ICE has an immigration interest, in an inmate, and no ICE arrest warrant has been presented, the county will continue its practice of notifying ICE of the date, time and location of inmate’s release.
Most people know someone that is undocumented. Whether it be at work, school, in your neighborhood undocumented individuals, like Jose Antonio Vargas, are productive citizens, who want to have meaningful and peaceful lives.

All California Community Colleges, Define America, Ph.D. Professors, sanctuary counties and cities, United We Dream, National Immigration Law Center, FAIR, NAFSA, over 40 DACA organizations, event organizers, and the students at Saddleback are providing support for the undocumented immigrant or the individual that wants to support and truly see the truths of the undocumented immigrant.

Providing information for an undocumented immigrant is necessary, the public should recognize the 11 million people who are in need of support, aid, and need a pathway to education, peace, and prosperity in the United States, even though Executive powers are derailing the pathway momentarily, movements are growing to see the undocumented immigrant do one thing, succeed in a meaningful, hopeful and unpolitically correct nation.

The Undocumented Students of Action Week is at its infancy, but as last years efforts more than doubled in its activities including workshops, seminars, webinars, etc. of the annual event, which has a promising future on how to communicate and educate others about undocumented students on campus. Saddleback College efforts on the subject of better educating its students on the realities of the Undocumented student is just seeding. With the continuation of this event, in the hopes to further educate students and teachers on the Undocumented student, possibly doubling there efforts next year, to further ease the difficulties that our fellow students endure, who deserves more than a week of recognition.