Only the Associated Students president and two senators attended a discussion about the state and federal DREAM acts, which would’ve provided more opportunities for undocumented students.
Senior Chicana/o studies major Lizbeth Mateo helped coordinate the discussion in order to inform A.S. senators about the acts, neither of which were passed into law.
“A.S. senators were invited. We were hoping they would be here,” Mateo said.
Adam Haverstock, the A.S. president, attended the discussion. Sen. Javier Roman attended the discussion briefly, but left early.
Lower division Sen. Vianney Moran was the only senator who stayed for the entire discussion.
Guest speakers included college graduates from many campuses.
Speakers shared their personal struggles as undocumented students to elaborate as to why the failed legislation needs to be supported.
Antonia Rivera, an UC Irvine alumna and member of the Orange County Dream Team, said she realized the reality of being an undocumented student while earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism.
“It was very hard for me to get through those four years without support,” Rivera said. “This is an issue that is just not about legislation, but about people’s lives.”
Professor Jorge Garcia of the CSUN Department of Chicana/o Studies debunked myths associated with the failed legislation, which includes the misconception that campuses are too crowded to accommodate undocumented students.
“As we sit here this afternoon, there are 23 state campuses that are underenrolled,” Garcia said. “There already is room.”
“People are short-sided. Look at the facts,” Garcia said. “If there is no room, build more schools.”
Also speaking was Marvin Pineda, a representative from the office of California State Sen. Gil Cedillo, author of the failed California DREAM Act.
Pineda stressed the importance of garnering support for the failed legislation by educating students and voicing opinions to local senators.
“When someone says, ‘I support you, I support AB 540 students,’ look at their actions and not at words,” Pineda said.
“Elected officials don’t like it when students are upset because you are the future,” Pineda said. “So if you are unhappy, let them know.”
A.S. President Adam Haverstock, who attended the discussion, said the limited turnout of senators was the result of conflicting schedules and the short amount of time in which the discussion was organized.
Haverstock said A.S. senators might not have attended the discussion because of a lack of support and agreement with what the failed legislation entailed.
“I support the DREAM Act,” Haverstock said. “I am impressed with the short amount of time that they had to put it together. It was very professional.”
Moran said the audience seemed to be comprised primarily of people who were already aware of the failed legislation.
“I thought that they were kind of preaching to the choir,” Moran said. “It needed to be more diverse (with) more outside people.”
The A.S. External Affairs Committee is trying to introduce a resolution to support the failed federal DREAM Act.
The discussion, “Holding on to the Dream,” was sponsored by MEChA de CSUN, A.S., and Dream to be Heard, a campus-based organization that promotes the state and federal DREAM acts
The Development, Relief and Education Alien Minors Act, the federal Dream Act, would’ve given undocumented students who arrived in the U.S. when they were 15 years old or younger citizen status for six years.
California Senate Bill 1, the California Dream Act, would’ve allowed undocumented students to apply for non-competitive Cal Grants.
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