Safe Zone offers help to undocumented, LGTBQ students

By David Graddy

The Safe Zone Ally Organization held a workshop to offer resources serving the LGBTQ community and undocumented students. The workshop was held at East Los Angeles College campus in the Student Services Building E1 in room 176.

Each year, Safe Zone helps more than 35,100 students at ELAC by offering a variety of resources including living accommodations, personal needs, and overall general health with a goal to lead the communities in the right direction.

Immigration laws continue to change with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals known as DACA. According to the website, DACA is an American immigration policy that allow illegal individuals who enter the United States as minors to remain in the country and to receive a renewable two-year deferred action to avoid deportation and be eligible to work.

According to the Daily news, the average DACA recipient enters the U.S. at the age of six. Majority of the recipients are currently in their 20s, with no criminal record and 91 percent are employed.

The Dream Act, an acronym for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors is an American legislative proposal for a multiphase process qualifying alien minors in the U.S. a conditional grant for residency. However this law has yet to pass.

In November 2014, former President Barack Obama announced his intention to expand DACA to cover additional undocumented immigrants. Multiple states sued immediately to prevent the expansion, which was unintentionally blocked by the courts.

“Those who are undocumented, are living in fear of the unknown. Family discussions become different because the fear of being separated from each other for the simplest things. This is because of a lack of knowledge for the services that are available to undocumented minors and without the proper information, undocumented families, that have all their necessary paperwork can still be deported based on a clerical error. One simple clerical error can separate a whole family for years even if that individual has completed all of the steps to be a legal resident,” said student speaker Carlos Figueroa.

According to USA Today, the federal Dream Act introduced to Congress in 2001, has increased the percentage of graduates for undocumented minors. Male students tend to graduate within 4 to 6 years versus 5 to 10 years for females and undocumented workers have more challenges because they might be working night shifts to support themselves and their families.

Fear becomes the basis because they do not want to take the wrong step. The difficulty obtaining an education as an undocumented student is tough when trying to support themselves and their family.

ELAC provides additional services such as how to prepare undocumented and LGBTQ students for success through education and fighting for The Dream Act to get passed.

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