DACA workshop educates and encourages students to take action

by Joseline Gonzalez

On May 12, Jenny Galvez and Andres Gonzalez held a workshop about the DREAM Act and AB540. DREAM stands for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors, a process for undocumented immigrants in the United States that would give them conditional, and eventually, permanent residency. The workshop facilitators’ goal was to give students awareness about the opportunities they can have. The vice president of the board of trustees, Mike Eng, stopped by to support the presentation.

Eng started off the workshop with the mention of his support for the students and the programs helping them. He was a strong advocate for students and held campaigns for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), working hard for the representation of the students.

Eng ended his introduction with, “The struggle for immigrant rights and student rights continues on.”

Mike Eng speaks at DACA workshop  photo by Gabriel Islas
Mike Eng speaks at DACA workshop
photo by Gabriel Islas

Jenny Galvez, from the student assessment center, and Andres Gonzalez, counselor for CHAMPS, conducted the workshop. They each explained different parts of the Dream Act and AB540 itself. AB540 is a law that can help provide in-state tuition for undocumented students who attend or plan on attending a public university in California.

AB540 has certain requirements students need to complete in order to be eligible. The students applying must have attended a high school in California for three or more years. They had to have graduated from the high school or received the equivalent, which would be a GED. Finally, the student must have filed an affidavit to legalize their status as soon as they are able to.

Galvez and Gonzalez expressed their concern for the students who have not reached out for the help they can obtain. They explained the workshop was held because of the lack of applications. Jenny Galvez explained to the students who attended that only 48 students from LAHC have applied for AB540 when the campus estimates there are 253 students whom are qualified to apply.

Galvez commented about the low numbers, “We wondered what we were doing wrong,” she said. “We aren’t doing our jobs right if students aren’t applying for the help they can get.”

Jenny Galvez giving out information about AB540 photo by Gabriel Islas
Jenny Galvez giving out information about AB540
photo by Gabriel Islas

Gonzalez added in, “Come by and ask us questions. If we don’t have the answers, we’ll get them. Students want to succeed, they go out and fight to succeed.”

Both of the speakers showed their interest in undocumented students as allies and their will to be successful. They let the students know about prior student advocates who not only succeeded in achieving a degree but have been active in helping immigrant students get the help they deserve.

The workshop then welcomed a guest speaker, Elizabeth Alamillo, an attorney who explained the details of the DACA. It is essentially a program that can help people, who came to the United States as children, get deferred action for a period of two years. It means that applicants can defer any removal action they have upon them. She went over regulations, including the $465 filing fee needed for each renewal they have.

Alamillo told the students and staff who attended, “I suggest you take advantage of the benefits while they are still in action.”

Andres Gonzalez ended the workshop with a reminder that there is a free, three-day residential program at UCLA for continuing AB540 or undocumented community college students. The trip will be held July 24-26. There is an application deadline on June 1. He encouraged students to apply and come talk to him if there were any questions.

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