The Immigrants Student Forum proved to be a very intimate setting where participants shared their stories, struggles and triumphs on March 4 in Room 226.
There were ten attendees including two guest speakers, Moran and Daniel Bravo. They discussed how legislation such as Assembly Bill AB 540, DACA and the California Dream Act has impacted their higher education.
AB 540 was passed in 2001 and grants in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants who attended high school in California and received a diploma or G.E.D. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals began in 2012 and gives a two-year work permit and exemption from deportation to undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States before their sixteenth birthday. The California Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act was signed in 2011 to allow undocumented immigrant students eligibility for financial aid.
None of these programs were available during Nidia Moran’s 18 year struggle in achieving her American residency status.
Moran came to the United States at age seven knowing only two words: “ok” and “7-Up”. Nonetheless, she excelled in high school classes, but it wasn’t until it was time to look at colleges did she realize she needed a social security number to receive financial aid.
She filed for residency status in 1992. While piggybacking on her mother’s residency, she received her bachelor’s in human services and sociology. She received temporary residency status and in the time before it was revoked, she received her master’s degree in marriage and family therapy. It wasn’t until 2010 that she was granted another temporary residency and with that she is now a third-year doctoral student in marriage and family therapy.
“I haven’t been able to take ‘no’ for an answer so far, and that’s maybe why I’m able to sit here in front of you,” Moran said.
“The Immigrant Student Forum is designed to show undocumented students that you can go to a four-year and graduate and still be successful,” said Guadalupe Cisneros, Dream Team club president.
She went on to add that when she first arrived to this country she was unsure of the opportunities she had.
“As an undocumented student, the first time I got here I didn’t really know what was out there for me,” Cisneros said. “So this forum is good just so I can get inspiration about how other students went through it and how it is possible for me to continue with getting higher education.”