July 18, 2019 | 72° F

Rutgers hosts event for undocumented students in October

The fate of undocumented immigrants has been a major topic of discussion among politicians this year, from controversial remarks by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to pro-immigration comments by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

And even Rutgers took a stance on the issue.

In an attempt to assist undocumented immigrants, Rutgers hosted "undocuRutgers," a three-and-a-half hour fair on Douglass campus in October. 

The event drew a crowd of more than 350 people and included tabling from Rutgers student organizations, as well as some two-year community colleges.

Many undocumented immigrants are unsure of how to apply and pay for college, but want to pursue higher education, said Patricia Rodriguez, an organizer of undocuRutgers and a School of Arts and Sciences senior.

The fair gave out information about financial aid, admissions and recent federal immigration policies, Rodriguez said.

Undocumented students do not have social security numbers, and thus face problems when applying for college.

"You have to go through loops and loops to get to the point where you can apply," Rodriguez said.

Some federal immigration policy changes have also affected the process of going to college for an undocumented student.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) are two federal changes that President Obama made to federal immigration policy.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program grants temporary permission to stay in the U.S. for children who came to the country before age 16, and prevents the person from being deported for two years.

DAPA follows a lot of the same logic, but the undocumented immigrant must have a child who is a United States citizen and have lived in the U.S. since Jan. 1, 2010.

This year, an expanded DACA program and DAPA was temporarily blocked by a federal district court in Texas. According to the National Immigration Law Center, this means people will not be able to apply for DAPA or DACA until a court issues an order allowing the initiatives to go forward.

Students are still able to apply for the original 2012 DACA program for anyone born after June 16, 1981, according to the National Immigration Law Center.

The students who attended the event were informed of these changes. 

Finding ways to pay for college as an undocumented student is the biggest challenge, said Leslie Hoyos, a lead organizer of undocuRutgers.

"Undocumented students can compete academically with naturalized students and citizens," Hoyos said. "The issue is paying for college as the prices keep rising, and attending college is more expensive than ever."

Avalon Zoppo

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