Written by Devin Chambers, Academic Advisor and Adjunct Faculty
In November’s Board meeting, the Board passed a resolution of support of DREAMERS (young people that came to the United States before the age of 16 through no fault of their own) and urged Congress to act quickly to protect this population after the DACA program was suspended in September. Nationally, 12,698 young people have lost their DACA since September. Harper has no way of knowing how many affected students we have, but estimates range from 200-400, with even more students being undocumented. Not all of these students are from Mexico; I have met undocumented and students with DACA from Poland, South Africa, and Brazil.
As the March 5 deadline approaches, and Congress has yet to enact any legal protection, you may begin to see students in your classrooms that have attendance or other unexplained issues. High levels of stress, depression, anxiety, and uncertainty are the norm for students in this situation. Be an open ear to these students, and refer them to Harper and community resources for mental health as appropriate.
What can faculty realistically do to support affected students in and out of the classroom? In a survey of 15 undocumented and DACAmented students attending Harper College, much of what students need are practical things such as financial assistance with college, or resources/information that can help them prepare for all of the possibilities. More generally, some “Do’s” and “Don’t’s” when working with these students:
- Give legal advice (most are already working with lawyers when they filed their DACA applications)
- Assume they are ignorant about their situation
- Ask about their “story” (how they came to the U.S.) or ask them to self-identify
- Listen and empathize (they are often just wanting an open ear and not advice)
- Encourage the student to become involved in clubs/orgs (particularly Latinos Unidos, which supports and provides scholarships for these students)
- Provide mental health or legal resource as appropriate: Community Resources
- Urge your Representatives to pass a Clean Dream Act: https://dreamers.fwd.us/congress-must-protect-dreamers
Questions? Please contact one of the following Academic Advisors: Devin Chambers (firstname.lastname@example.org, ext. 6984), Norma De La Rosa (email@example.com, ext. 6522), or Ana Luna (firstname.lastname@example.org, ext. 6994).