By CAROLINA VALDIVIA
On November 9, 2016, Donald Trump was elected as the forthcoming president of the United States. During his campaign, Trump has made a series of anti-immigrant remarks. He has stated that he would heighten immigration enforcement, end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and increase the number of deportations. Undocumented students and their families all across the country are increasingly becoming anxious and fearful over what the Trump presidency will do in terms of immigration policies and amplifying the anti-immigrant sentiment that Trump’s campaign has fostered. Now, more than ever, undocumented students and their families need support from educators, counselors, and administrators.
At My Undocumented Life blog, we have identified steps that schools and universities can take to support undocumented students.
This of course is not meant to be an exhaustive list. We encourage our readers to take advantage of the comment section below to add any suggestions, resources, or links they would like to share.
1. Provide financial support for immigration application fees. Given the uncertainty around what the future holds for undocumented students under a Trump presidency, including what will happen to DACA, several organizations are recommending that students receive reliable legal counsel. Many students are already struggling to afford their DACA applications and college tuition. Schools can help by providing financial assistance to undocumented students who qualify and need to apply for various forms of relief (e.g. legal permanent residency, U-Visa, Temporary Protected Status).
2. Provide legal services to undocumented students and their families– On a similar note, schools and universities across the country are providing legal services to undocumented students and their family members so that they can know their rights and learn about various types of relief they may be eligible for. For examples on what types of legal support are necessary, we encourage schools to look at the work done by the Undocumented Legal Services Center. The Center provides all University of California students and their families legal advice and representation, legal support for informational and know-your-rights sessions, legal support for campus clinics and workshops to assist with applications for benefits available under DACA and other immigration related relief, assistance in filing humanitarian and educational travel applications with immigration authorities for students with DACA status, as well as in-depth consultations and direct representation in immigration court or before immigration agencies. In addition to continuing this important work after the elections, the Center has also issued a FAQ for students to address some of their concerns around the future of DACA. Following the election results, CSU Northridge announced that it would invite attorneys to campus to give information about DACA. Other campuses should follow suit.
3. Create institutional scholarships that are open to undocumented students (with or without DACA status)- The lack of financial aid is often one of the biggest challenges that undocumented students encounter as they pursue a higher education. If DACA ends during the Trump presidency, which is highly likely, students will be at an even greater disadvantage. Colleges and graduate school programs can consider providing students with enough institutional financial support for them to finish their studies.
4. Create a page on the school website that is dedicated to providing resources for undocumented students- It is crucial for undocumented students to have access to information and resources that are specific to being undocumented at their campus. Many schools and universities across the country have created pages where they feature on-campus and community resources, FAQs, and more, specifically for undocumented students. See for example, CSUSM. For more examples, visit our growing list of schools that have referenced My Undocumented Life blog and other resources on their websites.
5. Issue a statement in support of undocumented students- It is important that schools continue to openly come out in support of undocumented students. For an example, see the letter issued by the University of Chicago.
1. Create a safe environment for undocumented students- This can take on different forms. Some educators have spent some time in the classroom discussing issues that are affecting undocumented students, including what the election results mean for undocumented communities. Others have “come out” in support of undocumented students by filling out and sharing this sign (created by United We Dream) in their offices, classrooms, and/or social media. You can also consider organizing a panel, film screening, or teach-in at your campus to educate the school community about the experiences of undocumented students.
2. Work with colleagues and students to urge your campus to become a sanctuary school- Students and educators across several campuses have created petitions where they outline specific steps that their school can take to better support undocumented students. For examples, see the petitions that have been created by students at the following institutions: Harvard, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Oberlin College, Yale, Stanford, CUNY, Columbia, Arizona, UCLA
3. Share My Undocumented Life blog with your colleagues and students- At My Undocumented Life blog, we provide daily information and resources for undocumented students and their families. With each passing day, there are new updates, resources, and tips, it is imperative that individuals working with undocumented students, as well as students and their families, receive the most up-to-date information.
4. Check out this page with additional resources on how to become an UndocuAlly- We are continually expanding this list as more information comes in so be sure to return to it periodically.
1. Create and circulate a petition at your school- Students and professors across several campuses have created petitions where they outline specific steps that their school can take to better support undocumented students. For examples, see the petitions that have been created by students at the following institutions: Harvard, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Oberlin College, Yale, Stanford, CUNY, Columbia, Arizona
Acknowledgement: Rachel Freeman, an associate at My (Un)Documented Life blog, has assisted with locating some of the resources listed here.
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