ASI advocates for undocumented students

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The ASI Board of Directors passed a resolution last month in support of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in a move continuing advocacy on behalf of undocumented students and students with temporary residency in the United States.

While the resolution is simply a statement of ASI’s position, Kayla Coriaty, a senior political science major and ASI chief governmental officer, hopes the resolution will make students aware of DACA as well as the large undocumented population on campus.

“It’s really about awareness and education and ensuring that we are able to move forward strongly as an organization that supports these students,” said Coriaty.

DACA, an executive order signed by President Obama in June 2012, allows young adults who arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16, are under 30 years of age and attended a U.S. high school, to apply for a work permit and a two-year renewable reprieve from deportation.

According to the ASI resolution, about 10 percent of CSUF students identify themselves as undocumented and more than 700 students who have attended the university in the past four years have applied for DACA.

Coriaty said this information was gathered through CSUF graduate studies and Student Academic Services.

Brenda Lopez, a senior liberal studies major and DACA-approved applicant, said this resolution can be incredibly helpful for undocumented students trying to pursue their career after college.

Lopez, who immigrated to the U.S. in 1994, has lived in the U.S. without documents since she was three years old. Without a Social Security card, she has not been allowed to work in the U.S.

“One of the benefits for applying to DACA is if you are a student who was in school and maybe has graduated and you already have your degree, you will be able to apply to jobs or a career that is related to your degree.”

She hopes to pursue her masters degree and teaching credential after she graduates, but without a work permit or the ability to pass a background check, she would not have been able to pursue a career in teaching.

After President Obama signed the memo, Lopez began working on submitting her DACA application in October so she could apply quickly if Obama was re-elected.

She feared that Mitt Romney would have struck down DACA if he was elected, a resolution that was signed only months prior.

After digging up everything from her high school diploma to electric bills proving residency in the United States, Lopez was finally able to submit her application two days after the election.

Lopez was approved for DACA in February, four months after she submitted her application. Some of her friends who have applied have not been as fortunate.

“I even know some who haven’t heard anything back since August, or since they were notified that they received their application,” she said. “So for me, I think it’s a case by case thing on the way that they release applications. Some people’s applications go through faster and get approved faster and for some people it takes a longer time.”

She said this could be a result of the documents they provided and how their applications were filled out. The DACA application process requires the applicant to fulfill seven requirements that all must be proven with documentation that can come from a variety of different sources, including schools that the applicants attended and employment records.

Plus, applying has a price tag of $465. Lopez said she was required to pay additional fees in order to obtain required documents.

She added that many applicants go to lawyers in order to ensure their application is filled out correctly and that they have all of the correct documentation. Lopez said she attended a variety of workshops that offer assistance. She also found a mentor that helped her put together her application free of charge.

Since receiving approval, Lopez has applied to Teach for America, an organization that recruits recent college graduates to teach for two years in low-income communities. She will also be pursuing her masters degree.

As a member of Lobby Corps, Lopez has been a part of the generation and discussion of the DACA Resolution. Because CSUF has such a high population of students that identify themselves as undocumented, Coriaty and ASI Lobby Corps felt as though this issue warranted a resolution and outreach to the campus community.

“When we were mapping out what we wanted to do in Lobby Corps, we established that as a goal was to really express our support through this resolution, but also to back it up by providing physical support for our undocumented students,” Coriaty said. “We’ve done that in a couple ways already by helping support the AB540 conference which took place on our campus last semester.”

Dwayne Mason Jr., ASI President and fifth-year studio art major, said ASI passed a resolution last year that advocated on behalf of undocumented students. Called “Drop the ‘I’ Word,” the resolution urged the campus community to refer to individuals living in the U.S. without documents or authorization as “undocumented” instead of “illegal.”

Coriaty hopes this most recent resolution will broaden discussion of the issue between ASI, undocumented students and the rest of the campus community.

“For this resolution specifically I hope that our undocumented students feel that we are reinforcing our support from them and that our student leaders are here to hear any concerns that they may have,” she said.

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