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Education

Mesa College supports undocumented students in week of action

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Nic Mcvicker
Giovanni Sanchez Aguilar is a DACA student at Mesa College, San Diego, CA October 22, 2021

This week, Mesa College joined community colleges across the state in an Undocumented Student Week of Action. That included virtual discussion forums and films in support of students in the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program better known as DACA. The action is also aimed at undocumented students who get financial aid from the California Dreamer Act.

The statewide effort engaged students, faculty, and staff to support the needs of more than 72,000 undocumented students, enrolled at California Community Colleges.

Mesa College has 452 undocumented students on its roster. Giovanni Sanchez Aguilar is one of them.

He is a DACA student who was brought by his parents from Mexico to the U.S. as a toddler. His two younger brothers were born here and are citizens. While his parents work on their legal status, he’s left waiting on Congress to determine the fate of DACA. Now a sociology major, he’s worked hard to become a member of the Honor Society while working as a landscaper and most recently with UPS.

“I kind of want to work with the courts and help my community because I know how hard it is for people in my situation to ask for help or resources,” Aguilar said.

In early December, Mesa College will open a new Dreamers Resource Center to support undocumented students. It will help them maneuver financial aid options and legal programs.

A July 16, 2021 court ruling in the State of Texas, et al., v. United States, held that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program is unlawful. The case created an additional layer of uncertainty for undocumented students across the country.

Mesa College supports undocumented students in week of action

Here in California, this month marks the 20th anniversary of the passage of Assembly Bill (AB) 540. The landmark legislation that opened the doors of higher education for thousands of undocumented students by removing the requirement that they pay of out-of-state tuition. That law is part of the bigger California Dreamer Act which also includes two other bills AB 130 and AB 131. Together, these bills allow undocumented and nonresident documented students who meet certain provisions to be treated the same as resident students.

“As the nation’s largest post-secondary education system serving the largest number of undocumented students within the state, California Community Colleges are committed to serving all students, regardless of immigration status,” said California Community Colleges Acting Chancellor Daisy Gonzales, PhD.

“Undocumented students enrolled at our colleges are aspiring teachers, doctors, artists and entrepreneurs and are poised to make significant contributions to help our nation recover from the pandemic. To be successful in their quest for a college education and career, students need and deserve stability,” she said.