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DREAMER Resource Center opens at Mesa College to help the undocumented

There is a new safe space for undocumented students on the campus of San Diego Mesa College. The DREAMER Resource Center is now open to provide support and critical information to those students who find themselves tangled in their immigration status. KPBS Education Reporter M.G. Perez has more on the center helping hundreds of students.

There is a new safe space for undocumented students on the campus of San Diego Mesa College.

The DREAMER Resource Center is now open to provide support and critical information to those students who find themselves tangled in their immigration status.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday afternoon included many of the 450 students who are undocumented and currently enrolled at the college.

"Mesa has been looking forward to opening this Center for a long time,” said Pamela Luster, San Diego Mesa College president. "This space was created by students for students; and as a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI), we are excited to have a dedicated location to continue offering support for our Undocumented, AB540, Dreamer, and DACA students."

The DREAMER Resource Center is decorated with various butterflies. Organizers say the butterflies are symbolic of the students who need help.

“Monarch butterflies freely migrate, showing how migration is both beautiful and natural,” student organizer Leticia Diaz said.

Grant money, donations, and state funding helped pay for the new resource center where DACA and other undocumented students will be able to access free legal services, career counseling, and education workshops.

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San Diego Mesa College
Undocumented students have access to free legal service, career counseling, and education workshops at the center, Dec. 7, 2021

Yolanda Granados is a graduate who tried to hide the illegal immigration status of her family while she was studying at Mesa College.

“When I was 19, I was actually at school taking a final and my mom got deported," she said. "I had nowhere to go. I had no space to run. I had no one to talk to or lean on. No counselor to open up to. Having a space like this is important.”

As one of the speakers at the opening ceremony, Granados also shared a happy ending to her story, which included her transferring to California State University, Long Beach and graduating earlier this spring.

The Resource Center is supported strongly by the school’s administration and teaching staff.

“Education is the true key to maximizing your potential and purpose as human beings,” vice president of student affairs Ashanti Hands said. “We know this space is going to provide the fuel, resources, and access to make dreams reality.”

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San Diego Mesa College
Migrating butterflies decorate the new center, symbolic of the students who have immigrated to San Diego County from other countries for a better life and education, Dec. 7, 2021