Community, Students Rally For Undocumented Immigrant Rights

Photo: UC Berkeley students and community members held a rally on Friday in support of undocumented immigrant issues, such as ending ICE raids and passing the DREAM Act.
David Herschorn/Photo
UC Berkeley students and community members held a rally on Friday in support of undocumented immigrant issues, such as ending ICE raids and passing the DREAM Act.


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About one hundred UC Berkeley students and community members chanting, "We are here, and we're not leaving," rallied on Sproul Plaza Friday in support of migrant workers for International Workers' Day.

Participants voiced their concerns for migrant issues, including ending ICE raids aimed at deporting undocumented immigrants and passing the DREAM Act, which would grant financial aid to non-California residents, many of whom are undocumented.

According to the 2006-07 Annual Report on AB 540 Tuition Exemptions, there are 357 students who are not California residents that receive in-state tuition on campus and 1,639 systemwide. If the act passed, these students would be eligible for financial aid.

The report also states that of the students who identify as non-California residents, there are 73 potentially undocumented students on campus and 455 in the entire UC system.

Participants mentioned two undocumented campus staff members who worked at Clark Kerr Campus that were detained and expected to be deported.

A UC Berkeley student at the rally, who requested anonymity because she is undocumented, said one reason she came was to support the act, which was reintroduced to both federal and state congresses in March.

She said she is not allowed to study abroad or receive financial aid from the state because of her status.

"I'm not able to get financial aid, which puts an extreme burden on my family, even though we have to pay taxes," she said. "That money's going to other students, but it's not going to me."

Campus spokesperson Marie Felde said Chancellor Robert Birgeneau is "a great supporter" of the act because education gives undocumented students a path to citizenship.

"He believes it's important that students not be penalized for how they were brought to this country," she said. "They excel through college (and) should have the opportunity to attend."

But Jiesi Zhao, president of the Berkeley College Republicans, said that although she supports educating undocumented students, she disagrees with giving them in-state tuition.

"That's kind of unfair if out-of-state students have to pay so much more, while undocumented students have a special advantage," she said.

Freshman Aurora Castellanos, a member of the indigenous student political activism group Xinachtli, said this year's rally is different from those of previous years because there is greater hope for success with issues such as the act under President Barack Obama's administration.

"We want to ensure that we are putting migrant rights out, especially now that we got a new president," Castellanos said. "We want to make sure that we are holding (Obama) accountable to the promises he was making to the migrant communities."

Tags: DREAM ACT, NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION


Contact Melani Sutedja at [email protected]



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