Students host open discussion on undocumented

By Stephen Nye

“We The People” a dialogue on U.S. immigration history, was held Friday at Pennsylvania Avenue Residence Hall in cooperation with La Casa.

Dr. Gioconda Guerra PérezJT, director of La Casa, gave a lecture called “Undocumented” about the evolution of undocumented immigration legislation in the U.S., and then held a brief question and answer section. The lecture spanned the Naturalization Act of 1790JT to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, which was expanded in 2014.

Brandon Rodgers, junior in LASJT and a PAR residence assistant, helped organize the event with encouragement from several residents, including Jonathan Alanis, a freshman in DGSJT.

“As a hispanic student, (undocumented status) is a topic that is important to me. I wanted to get the news out there,” said Alanis.

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Alanis said that students at the University don’t know about the experiences of undocumented students, and has helped planning the event for about three weeks.

Pérez hopes that the students walked away with a renewed interest and awareness about issues surrounding undocumented immigrants.

“La Casa is happy to present to anyone interested … I encourage anyone interested to get in contact with CASE, and to spread awareness for these issues,” Pérez said. “(Being undocumented) is the only crime in which, if your father commits a crime, the son or daughter has to pay the price.”

The Coalition for Accessible Scholarships for Everyone (CASE)JT is a group of students, administrators and faculty members from universities across the state, that is working to advocate for the Access to College and Career-Education for Statewide Success Bill, or ACCESS. ACCESS would allow four-year public universities in Illinois to offer standard financial aid packages to undocumented students.

The ACCESS bill aims to help undocumented students “compete on an equal level with documented residents of the nation,” and earn scholarships to enable their education, according to the bill’s website. The bill would apply to the nearly 1,500 undocumented students who currently attend Illinois public universities. The University of Illinois at Chicago is an official supporter, alongside eight other public universities.

Gorka Garcia, a junior in the College of BusinessJT, said that he attended the event to learn about the difference of immigration history in the United States as opposed to Spain, where he grew up.

“It was interesting to see how immigration works here in the United States,” said Gorka.

Gorka said that he wished that the event could have more fully addressed illegal immigration from Europe. He hopes that if these sorts of events grow, experts on regions outside of Latin America can be in attendance, to give a fuller picture.

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