Faculty and administrators have pledged their support for undocumented students, following the federal government’s announcement to repeal the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program by March 5.
Norma Salcedo, coordinator of the Dream Resource Center in SF State’s Division of Equity and Community Inclusion, works closely with undocumented students. Observing an increase in students’ levels of anxiety since last year’s presidential election, she’s organized forums where undocumented students can support one another and scheduled sessions with a therapist from Counseling and Psychological Services.
“There is a lot of fear, a lot of uncertainty. We don’t know what’s going to happen,” Salcedo says. “I’m asking our community to come together and call our Congress members to support immigration reform that would support all of our students.”
The Dream Resource Center, located in Mary Park Hall, is a safe space for undocumented students to receive advice on policies and programs that support their enrollment and success at SF State. Several California-wide programs support undocumented students. They can be eligible for tuition exemptions, scholarships, grants, tutoring and mentoring. Navigating all of this can be overwhelming.
“We provide an avenue for students to have a safe space where they can access resources,” Salcedo says.
The Dream Resource Center also provides trainings for faculty and staff on supporting Dreamers, advocates for SF State and CSU policies and resources that benefit these students and assists high school and community college students in applying to the University.
College of Liberal & Creative Arts students may also receive assistance at the college’s Advising Resource Center. The center, located in room 112 of the Humanities building, refers students to other available resources, including faculty members who have offered to help undocumented students.
“If you are struggling with DACA or with family issues, we understand that you may also be having trouble with your studies,” says Susan Shimanoff, College of Liberal & Creative Arts associate dean of student affairs. “We can help you with advising and determining your best academic options. We will listen to you and empathize.”
The DACA program, which has been in effect since 2012, has allowed people who moved to the U.S. illegally as children to live and work legally in the U.S. for renewable two-year periods. Applicants must have arrived in the U.S. before 2007, when they were under age 16.
About 800,000 people nationwide have enrolled in DACA.
Under President Donald Trump’s directive, no new applications will be approved, unless Congress provides a legislative solution by March 5, 2018, or if any of the several pending lawsuits against the administration are successful. A limited number of DACA renewals were allowed through October 5.
“DACA has allowed me to go to San Francisco State University and get my political science degree,” senior Gerardo Gomez says. “I hope to go to law school and become an immigration attorney, but my future is in doubt.”
Gomez, 22, is a fellow with Deferred Action San Francisco, based in San Francisco’s Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs. As part of the fellowship, he works at Pangea Legal Services, a nonprofit firm that represents immigrants in deportation proceedings. He hopes that the rights afforded DACA recipients can also be extended to other undocumented immigrants.
“With DACA, we thought we’d be safe and didn’t need to fight anymore. It created the idea that only those doing certain things need immigration relief,” says Gomez, who moved to California from Mexico at age 3.
There are numerous ways to get involved in helping undocumented students. President Wong recommends contacting congressional representatives and urging them to restore protections for undocumented individuals and families. SF State also accepts donations to its Undocumented Student Support and Advocacy Fund.
“I tell students to be hopeful,” Salcedo says. “The minute we lose hope is the minute we lose.”
— Matt Itelson
- Dream Resource Center, SF State
- Resources for Undocumented Students, California State University
- Counseling and Psychological Services, SF State
- SF State Bulletin, AB540 and Undocumented Students
- Consideration of DACA, U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services
- United We Dream
- Deferred Action San Francisco
Photo: Protesters hold signs and banners at a September 5 demonstration following the federal government's decision to repeal the DACA program at San Francisco City Hall. Photo by Pax Ahimsa Gethen.