DREAMers on Grounds pens letter to Ryan calling for support for immigrants

The letter asked for policy change, increased financial assistance and diversity initiatives

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DREAMers on Grounds sent the letter on Nov. 19. 

Courtesy DREAMers on Grounds

The Executive Board of DREAMers on Grounds sent a letter to University President Jim Ryan Nov. 19 encouraging U.Va.’s administration to increase support for immigrants at the University.

DREAMers on Grounds is an organization at the University that works to protect undocumented students and their families and inform the local community of the issues faced by immigrants. 

The letter said Ryan has the opportunity to do more for the undocumented community than previous administrations. According to DREAMers, U.Va.’s administration has failed to foster a community that includes undocumented students.

The University did not respond to request for comment, but in a response to DREAMers obtained by The Cavalier Daily, Ryan wrote that “we have a lot of work to do.”

“I appreciate learning more about your organization and your work to create a more inclusive environment for all undocumented students at the University,” Ryan wrote. “I also welcome your suggestions for how we might accomplish that goal.”

The letter mentions that only three brief University-wide emails from 2017 attempted to address support for undocumented persons. The emails “lacked in sincere empathy for the undocumented community and offered little resolve for the issues it mentioned,” the letter reads.

According to the letter, through effective policy change, increased financial assistance and institution-wide diversity initiatives, Ryan’s administration has the ability improve the experience of undocumented students at the University.

“We hope that in the future, more transparent, thoughtful, and intentional institutional support is communicated and actively demonstrated by the University administration to build a University community sure and proud of their care for its undocumented community,” the letter reads.

DREAMers also encouraged Ryan to take the issue of hate speech seriously, as it affects those targeted by xenophobic speech.

The letter also expresses disapproval of the Miller Center’s appointment of Marc Short, a former aide to President Donald Trump. 

According to DREAMers, Short “actively participates in spreading xenophobic and nativist propaganda promoted by the current federal administration.” The Center has said Short’s role in the White House can help its researchers understand the Trump administration.

DREAMers said that the University leadership — independent from the Miller Center — should have criticized his appointment for the sake of the immigrant community. Ryan expressed support for Short’s appointment on his first day as U.Va. president.

“We hope that in the future, your presidency takes situations like these to instead highlight the injustices that affect UVA immigrant students of color, and work harder to protect and support them,” the letter reads.

DREAMers also mentioned Ryan’s “Ours to Shape” program, responding with their own answer of how to strengthen the community and serve both the commonwealth and the world.

“We strengthen our community by encouraging dialogue on how to support and care for the wellbeing of our most at-risk and marginalized groups on Grounds,” the letter reads. “You have the power to shape the administration as one that is empathetic, protective, and just towards its undocumented students and employees.” 

A group of U.Va. Latinx students recently released a list of demands of the University, including increased recruitment of Hispanic/Latinx faculty, the availability of Spanish-translated documents for parents and students and tours in Spanish and Portuguese for potential applicants and their families.

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