Eight local community colleges, from Palomar and the city of San Diego to Grossmont and Southwestern, will be part of a pilot program that offers free resources to serve needy undocumented students.
The program, which will be implemented this year, will provide students, teachers and staff from 65 community colleges with legal services, such as confidential consultations on immigration status and outreach events, including workshops on topics related to this topic.
The local universities chosen to receive aid are Cuyamaca, Grossmont, Imperial Valley, MiraCosta, Palomar, San Diego City, San Diego Mesa and Southwestern.
Through Assembly Bill 1809, 10 million dollars will be allocated for the State Department of Social Services to hire nonprofit organizations that offer immigration legal services .
Called the Immigration Legal Services Project of the Educational Community, the initiative is aimed at addressing a need identified in a recent report of the Dreamers Project of the Educational Community found that one of the three main concerns for undocumented students was the need for a Free or low cost legal service.
The program begins when undocumented students await a ruling from the US Supreme Court. UU. On the Trump administration's plan to terminate a program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. Meanwhile, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service has asked immigration courts to reopen deportation cases against immigrants who were safe from deportation under DACA.
The Migration Policy Institute estimates that half of the approximately 50,000 to 70,000 undocumented university students in the state probably qualified for DACA.
Officials from local community colleges said that regardless of the outcome of the Supreme Court case, they anticipate that undocumented students will seek legal services. They added that it is crucial to create a shelter for undocumented students at a time when many feel vulnerable to deportation.
"It is very necessary, especially with the political climate at the moment; the students are even more in the shade and are afraid to identify themselves," said Izabel Solis, supervisor of the Orientation Department at Palomar College. "We hope that as we have more resources available, they will look for resources when necessary." Solís and other community college officials applauded the State for being more supportive and inclusive of undocumented students.
Sandra Lobato, a 29-year-old DACA recipient and a member of the San Diego Border Dreamers, knows firsthand the importance of services. She said the defense group receives many questions from students and refers them to immigration lawyers.
Lobato, who arrived in the United States from Mexico with seven years in 1997, said he went through a long and complex process to enroll in Grossmont College before transferring to San Diego State University, where he studies child development.
"It is wonderful to get that support and it is a recognition that we are here," he said. "That is the kind of help and support we have been needing." In universities such as San Diego City and Southwestern, the state initiative will be based on the services offered at the centers that support undocumented students.
The legal services offered at the DREAMer Resource Center at San Diego City College included free consultations and workshops, efforts that were a "great success," said Angelica Gonzalez, interim director of Title V.
"It seemed that the students were hungry to learn about all the opportunities related to programs and funding," he said. "He became very informative, not only for someone who is an undocumented student but also for his allies," he concluded.
For Palomar College, the aid is particularly beneficial because the surrounding area of the north of the county has limited resources, Solis said, adding that most services are concentrated in the southern regions of the county.
Palomar faculty and staff, including Solís, are working to create a welcoming space on campus to serve undocumented students, similar to the university centers of the city of San Diego and Southwestern.
State support for undocumented students dates from the passage of bill 540 of the 2001 Assembly, which allows undocumented students who meet certain criteria to pay state tuition.
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