The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program, more commonly known as DACA, violates federal law on Oct. 5.

After the latest ruling, Interim President Monte Perez issued a memo to staff, faculty and students stating that Fullerton College will continue to support undocumented immigrants. “The contributions of immigrants are the backbone to America’s strength, and we will not waver in our dedication to providing high-quality education and support to all immigration-impacted students,” Perez wrote.

The annual Undocumented Students Action Week was held by the Grads 2 Be Program Oct. 17-21. This year’s event focused on helping undocumented students at Fullerton in the wake of the court ruling against DACA.

Student Development and Engagement staff member reflecting on the past week that focused on undocumented students on October 24, 2022.

A Student Development and Engagement staff member reflects on the past week that focused on undocumented students on October 24, 2022. Photo credit: Sara Leon

“We know how hard it is for undocumented students to pursue higher education without documentation and how scary it is to be in a country where all of your opportunities are limited,” said Areli Patino Rodriguez, the marketing and event advocate for the Grads 2 Be Program. “We just want to be a resource for them to pursue their career goals or at least have an education.”

Workshops featured skills such as learning about the rights undocumented persons hold in the United States, healing to help reduce stress and increase self-awareness, and more.

“The Grads 2 Be Program sends a lot of information out to students to get us involved and to inform us of anything that’s going on,” said a student at a Fullerton College United club meeting who prefers to stay anonymous. “It’s nice to know that they’re always there to help us and push us into the right direction.”

Artwork symbolizing the existence of undocumented citizens in Fullerton College's 500 building on October 18, 2022.

Artwork by Julio Salgado symbolizing the existence of undocumented citizens hangs in Fullerton College's 500 building. Photo credit: Sara Leon

The Grads 2 Be Program was founded in 2015 through the activism of FC student advocates. It works to protect and support undocumented students, providing resources such as financial support, mental health advisory, and legal aid.

“Knowing that there are people who specialize in helping people like me makes me feel welcome, heard, acknowledged, and that I’m here. I’m really grateful for this college,” said Alexis, a student who has been living undocumented for most of their life.

DACA was established under the Obama administration in 2012, opening up a new door for children that need United States documentation. Donald Trump sought to limit the program multiple times during his presidency.

Fullerton College helps undocumented students find free legal service on October 18, 2022.

Fullerton College helps undocumented students find free legal service on October 18, 2022. Photo credit: Sara Leon

Before DACA, practically no establishment allowed undocumented people to go to school or make a living–rights that are protected by American law. This program was created to help them carry out these day-to-day activities as easily as U.S. citizens.

As of now, students already established in the DACA program can still renew their status and reap all the benefits the program offers, but the recent ruling has since halted any new applicants from applying.

“I just needed one more paper to get into the program,” said the anonymous student. “It’s so frustrating having to wait this whole time just for them to deny my application.”

If you are an undocumented student in need of financial, legal, and/or mental support and want to be a part of a program that specializes in helping you achieve your goals, you can contact the Grads 2 Be Program at grads2be@fullcoll.edu or call (714) 992-7105.

“I realized I was not like everybody else,” said Alexis. “Finding out that I couldn’t work because of my status was a real shock to me, and it’s really hard because I come from a very poor family and finding funds and money is very difficult already.”

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