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Undocumented Students Come 'Out Of The Shadows'

Undocumented students and supporters came together on the campus of Northern Illinois University this week to show support for each other and ask the university to modify some of its framework.


DREAM Action NIU held their 6th annual Coming Out Of The Shadows event to highlight the stories and needs of undocumented students.


Some students spoke to a crowd of more than 100 people about their struggles to succeed while facing immigration issues. Speakers noted that while the undocumented community has many Latinos it includes any family touched by immigration.


DREAM Action called on NIU to help ease financial aid opportunities for undocumented students and hire a campus immigration lawyer.


"Undocumented immigrants are being criminalized and dehumanized by the current executive administration," said Pablo Valencia-Garcia, president of DREAM Action NIU. Now more than ever we must support fellow Huskies and encourage the creation of a more inclusive campus for all regardless of immigration status."


Speakers stressed the need for NIU to hire more faculty of color and bilingual staff in order to reflect the student population.


Valencia-Garcia also stated the group's support of the RISE Act or the Retention of Illinois Students and Equity Act.The Act would help some student populations apply for currently inaccessible state financial aid.


"This event comes at a time where numerous students and supporters around the state of Illinois are advocating in support of House Bill 2691, the Rise Act," he said.


Valencia-Garcia then gave the crowd a brief description:


“[The Act] would allow undocumented immigrants, transgender students who cannot register for selective services to have access to state funds, as well as for students who have lost state aid because they have surpassed the 75 credit hour limit on the MAP grant before they are juniors."


The Act passed in the House on April 11 and has been sent to the Illinois Senate.


A volunteer-led group called Welcoming Western Counties: Solidarity and Sanctuary Coalition will be hosting "Immigrant Ally" training on NIU's campuson Friday, April 12, at 5:30 p.m.