Student group holds teach-in on supporting undocumented students

Media Credit: Donna Armstrong | Hatchet Photographer

Sarah Pierce, an expert on U.S. immigration policy from the Migration Policy Institute, spoke at a teach-in Monday about how students can support undocumented students.

GW Students for Dreamers, a student immigration advocacy group, held a teach-in Monday night urging Congress to enact protections for young undocumented immigrants.

About 40 students attended Monday’s event, held in the basement of District House, the first of two teach-ins planned for this week in reaction to the Trump administration’s September decision to cancel the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which temporarily shielded undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children from deportation.

At the event, organizers urged students to sign a letter to Congress from the GW Community urging action to protect Dreamers before the program ends in March.

The talk featured experts from the Migration Policy Institute, a D.C. think tank, and a discussion with attorney Dana Weekes from the law firm Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer about how students can strategically advocate for Dreamers.

The second teach-in will be held Thursday in the Marvin Center with a walk out in solidarity with Dreamers scheduled for the same day.

Here’s what you missed from the event:

1. Joining the effort

Darcy Gallego and Cristian Vides, the leaders of GW Students for Dreamers, said the event was designed to educate the GW community about issues involving undocumented students and urge attendees to sign the letter to Congress.

Vides said students could make an impact in lobbying legislators to enact new protections for Dreamers.

“This is going beyond just changing your profile picture, this is going beyond sharing a status on Facebook, this is actually having a direct impact on the DREAM Act,” he said.

2. Finding a legislative solution

Sarah Pierce, an expert on U.S. immigration policy from the Migration Policy Institute, said finding a legislative solution to safeguard young undocumented immigrants is more difficult than ever in the current political climate.

“As you may be aware, immigration has continued to become more politically polarized over the years so it’s been harder and harder for this act to get support,” she said.

Henry Manning, a senior and research fellow at United We Dream, an immigrant youth advocacy organization, said another challenge is educating the public about complex immigration policies.

“Action without knowledge is dangerous,” Manning said.

3.How to advocate

Weekes urged students to back a “clean” version of the Dream Act, a bill that would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, without attachments to other issues. She challenged the event’s organizers to get 500 GW students to sign the letter to Congress.

Weekes said students can force the issue by holding teach-ins, writing letters and calling members of Congress and participating in events planned by GW Students for Dreamers.

“The letter that we’re going to encourage GW students to sign – that we’re going to send to members of Congress, so that they know where GW students are on the issue,” she said.

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