Monday mornings at DePaul consist of waiting in a 15-minute line at the Bean all to savor a Caramel Crunch coffee before a 9:40 morning class. But would you be willing to give up your caffeine intake for one Monday, if it meant an undocumented student could attend DePaul on a scholarship?
Undocumented Vincentian Allies (UVA), a student organization, wants to do just that. For the value of a $6 tuition increase, they want to create a scholarship fund for undocumented students applying to DePaul.
More and more undocumented youth are being limited in their options. Due to their status in the country they are not eligible for financial aid. Going to college becomes unattainable. Many times undocumented students are juggling a full time job while being a full time student, in order to afford tuition. To top that off, President Donald Trump’s rhetoric puts undocumented youth at fear of being deported.
Educating the youth, especially undocumented youth, is one of UVA’s focuses. Adan Figueroa, founder of UVA and graduate student at DePaul, wants UVA to build that bridge and transition undocumented students into college.
Figueroa has worked closely with Dreamers Club in Foreman College and Career Academy located on the Northwest Side of Chicago. Dreamers clubs vary in names but are created to educate and to be a support system for undocumented students and allies in high school.
The term Dreamers stands for the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors legislative proposal that was never passed. The term stood and is now used in politics and by the media to identify undocumented youth.
UVA is trying to continue the purpose of The Dreamers Club and transmit it on a greater level here on DePaul’s campus.
“This quarter we are really pushing to create a scholarship fund for undocumented students,”
Suzette Brito, the public relations chair of UVA said.
Brito went into detail about what UVA wants to see in the coming years at DePaul. Working closely with the Student Government Association (SGA), UVA wants to increase tuition by $2 quarterly to full-time undergraduate students. This would create a fund of approximately $79,000.
The scholarship is modeled similarly to what Loyola University Chicago has in place with the Magis Scholarship fund. In 2015 the fund at Loyola was put in place with a $2.50 increase in tuition every semester. Overall this creates five full-ride scholarships for undocumented students.
DePaul University’s president Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider C.M., has stated in emails sent to the university in December of 2016 that DePaul stands in solidarity and will protect undocumented students. This email was sent after Mayor Rahm Emanuel declared Chicago as a sanctuary campus.
There are approximately 19,000 undocumented youth in the city. Options for them are scarce.
DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival, grants undocumented youth with a workers permit and non-removal from the country for a period of two years. DACA is attainable through an application process and fee. This is suddenly no longer an option. DACA applicants are being told to not renew their membership and high school students are being told not to apply. There is fear and uncertainty with the new presidential administration about the effectiveness of DACA.
On Feb. 17, a DACA undocumented youth was deported. Juan Manuel Montes was deported despite having renewed DACA in Calexico, California. Montes was waiting for a ride when he was questioned by U.S Customs and Border Protection. Montes did not have an ID on him and was not allowed to prove his DACA status. Montes was just out for some food with friends and got deported within 3 hours back to Mexico.
Hours earlier he was with his girlfriend.
During fall quarter UVA kicked into gear for the first time at DePaul by hosting an open mic event on ‘I Am An Immigrant’ Day, a national day formed by the I Am An Immigrant movement that celebrates the diversity of immigrants who have long formed this nation.
During the event, high school students from the Ollin Youth Group branched from Telpochcalli Community Education Project were in attendance. The Ollin Youth Group focuses on planning events, fundraisers and organizing on issues that affect the Latino community in Chicago.
UVA hopes to reach high school students as well as students at DePaul. UVA wants everyone to be aware of the efforts being made for this scholarship fund. It all starts with allies and raising awareness in the student body.
“Allies is probably one of the most important parts of our organization, because a lot of us are allies,” Figueroa said.
Figueroa said that a person doesn’t have to be undocumented to care. The term ally is for those who aren’t undocumented but support the movement and stand in solidarity with those who are.
Larissa Aranda, president of UVA, explained how it can be difficult for undocumented youth to be open about their legal status.
“It’s not easy to come out of the shadows and say, ‘Hey I’m undocumented’.”
As of right now UVA is collaborating with SGA members to propose a referendum. This past Friday, SGA senators and voting members voted unanimously in favor for the referendum. The next step is for the student body to also vote in favor of the referendum. The voting will be taking place in the upcoming May SGA elections.
The referendum will have to pass with a 50 percent plus one student body approval to be proposed to the Board of Trustees for approval.
“If it doesn’t pass with a sufficient margin it wouldn’t be proposed to the board until the student support is reevaluated,” member of SGA Gracie Covarrubias said.
The ideal range for the referendum is an approximate 70% margin indicating a strong support from the student body Covarrubias said.
Since the budget for the next fiscal year has already been approved, the budget is then required to be amended. This will then require the Board of Trustee’s full approval as well as a review from the finance committee. UVA is hoping for the scholarship to go into effect for the 2018-2019 school year.
“Fear is setting us back on revealing our identities and staying true to ourselves.”
Brenda Gonzalez, an undocumented student at DePaul said. “We are a vulnerable community, but we have to remember that we are only vulnerable to our own fears.”