By Francisco Portillo
The Dream Resource Center partnered with the television network Telemundo for a news special titled “Conoce tus Derechos (Know Your Rights)” on Friday.
The purpose of the news special was to inform citizens on what to do and not do if United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents come knocking on their doors.
Telemundo built a set in front of campus to interview representatives of the resource center.
According to Jesika De Jesus, who works in the resource center, given the political situation that we’re currently in, the Dream Resource center is a great resource that is available to students who have questions or concerns about the new policies that have been put into place by President Trump’s cabinet.
“I remember having two students ask me ‘Should I go back to my country?’ because they are afraid, and I have to tell them ‘No, continue with your education.’ A lot of students don’t know about the resources that can benefit them. What I’ve noticed is that students, a lot of students, are also afraid to ask for help,” De Jesus said.
Dream Act students, according to De Jesus, live in constant fear of separation from their parents and of the loss of their educational goals. Not all students are aware that Trump has decided to leave Dream Act students alone, and that the center is one of the outlets available to students on campus. The Dream Resource Center, an outlet for students who need assistance with issues regarding immigration, was once hard to find on campus.
The initial location was inside the EOP&S office but relocated this semester to E1-1. De Jesus said the move brings in more students and offers more privacy than the previous location, which was essentially a room. Started by Vice President of student services Julie Benavidez, the center is coordinated by Reyna Hernandez.
The purpose is to offer a place of sanctuary to Dream Act and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer students who feel there is no help available on campus.
Hernandez, who was also an undocumented student, understands Dreamers’ fears of losing their families after seeing her neighbor be taken by government agents. LGBTQ and undocumented students are the primary users of the Dream Resource Center, and the center hires these same students to create a welcoming, relatable environment for them. “I don’t think (students) see us as workers.
When you’re an undocumented student, for some reason, you never feel comfortable talking about being undocumented. They come in and see that (the workers) are also undocumented, so they feel like they can open up to us more. We’re more than just workers to them; we are family,” Judith Arguello, who works in the resource center, said. One of the many services the center provides is assistance with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals paperwork.
DACA students are undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as minors; the immigration policy grants them two years of legal protection from deportation. The center has partnered with attorneys from Loyola to give students free legal aid, which would otherwise cost about a thousand dollars.
Other student services the center offers are free workshops, monetary assistance for book purchases, job placement, paid internships and referrals to other outlets that can provide further assistance. The center isn’t solely for Dream Act students, but is also for students who feel marginalized and are in need of help.
Any students who feel as if they are in need of counseling or guidance can refer to the Dream Resource Center located in E1-1. Johanna Calderon contributed to the story.