Latino group asks StudCo to broaden support for act
Latino Student Alliance panel features students’ immigration experiences
The Latino Student Alliance hosted a panel discussion last night that focused on issues Latino immigrants face in the United States and proposed that Student Council support the Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors, or DREAM, Act, which provides a path to citizenship for undocumented minors.
The panel was made up of seven students who told their personal stories of immigrating to the United States and was moderated by Daniel Chavez, assistant professor of Spanish and American Studies.
"Immigration is never a neutral term," Chavez said, as he opened the event with a presentation on the history of immigration in the United States.
Phil Storey, attorney for the Immigrant Advocacy Program at the Legal Aid Justice Center, followed Chavez with a presentation about the legal hurdles faced by students born to undocumented parents. Storey shed light on common misconceptions associated with the legal rights of undocumented immigrants. He spoke extensively about the "myth of the anchor baby," explaining that fewer rights are promised to undocumented parents of children born in the country than is commonly believed.
A group of panelists talked about their experiences living as Latino immigrants in the United States. One such panelist was fourth-year College student Aquiles Damiron-Alcantara, who shared his experience of leaving the Dominican Republic eight years ago.
"English was one of my biggest struggles as an immigrant," Damiron-Alcantara said. He moved north from Florida after his first few months in the United States in search of an English as a Second Language program. By the time he returned to his native country in 2008, six years after he initially left, he no longer felt as if he completely identified with the nation. "I was not like the other boys in the Dominican. I realized I was as much Dominican as American, both on paper and practically," he said.
Danny Navarro, LSA external communications chair, said the panel was held in an effort to speak out against the negative reputation he believes is given to Latin Americans by the media.\n"We are tired of being silent and tired of being afraid," Navarro said.
LSA also presented Student Council with a proposal to urge passage of the DREAM Act, which would provide qualifying, undocumented high school graduates with a six-year path to citizenship contingent on completion of a college degree or two years of military service.
The LSA proposal requests the student body press the University administration to draft a declaration affirming the University's support for the act.
"Before we can lobby the University formally, we have to educate students," Navarro said, adding that he believes it will be a year-long battle before any possibility of having the declaration adopted by the administration. The hope for yesterday's event, Navarro said, is for Student Council to involve the student body in conversations about the DREAM Act.
"But the challenges [the Latin American community] faces in America right now are so great," he said.