Student Voice

Campus hosts supportive forum for DACA students

Sergio+Lagunas+%28right%29%2C+a+representative+from+El+Concilio+Family+Services%2C+speaks+about+immigrant+rights+and+action+steps+following+the+repeal+of+DACA.+Lagunas+was+brought+in+by+the+campus+to+offer+information+and+advice+to+DACA+students.+Photo+credit%3A+Martin+Bilbao
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Campus hosts supportive forum for DACA students

Sergio Lagunas (right), a representative from El Concilio Family Services, speaks about immigrant rights and action steps following the repeal of DACA. Lagunas was brought in by the campus to offer information and advice to DACA students. Photo credit: Martin Bilbao

Sergio Lagunas (right), a representative from El Concilio Family Services, speaks about immigrant rights and action steps following the repeal of DACA. Lagunas was brought in by the campus to offer information and advice to DACA students. Photo credit: Martin Bilbao

Sergio Lagunas (right), a representative from El Concilio Family Services, speaks about immigrant rights and action steps following the repeal of DACA. Lagunas was brought in by the campus to offer information and advice to DACA students. Photo credit: Martin Bilbao

Sergio Lagunas (right), a representative from El Concilio Family Services, speaks about immigrant rights and action steps following the repeal of DACA. Lagunas was brought in by the campus to offer information and advice to DACA students. Photo credit: Martin Bilbao

By Martin Bilbao

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Students learned about their options following the cancellation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in an open forum on Sept. 12.

“We are trying to do whatever we can to get you the resources that you need and to be supportive as you continue at Moorpark [College],” said Sylvia Barjas, Vice President of Business Services. “The rights afforded by California will continue and we will continue to provide that. We want you to know that you are welcome here at this college.”

The forum included advice on renewing DACA, avoiding deportation, and information on student services available to DACA recipients. There are about 260 DACA students at Moorpark College, who may now be uncertain about their ability to stay in this country, let alone in class.

The Trump administration announced on Sept. 5 that it would phase out the program over a six month period, but anticipates that Congress will take action to legislate a solution for DACA recipients.

The program allows undocumented individuals who were brought into the United States while they were children to apply for a social security number and work permits. For many, this has allowed them to come out of the shadows and find work in the only country they call home.

Student success and support supervisor Jesus Vega organized the meeting, which included over a dozen students that had concerns over the immigration status of family and themselves. With the end of DACA, many feared that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would come after them.

“[ICE] cannot come onto our campus and search for you or ask for you unless they have an official warrant,” said Vega “If they have a warrant, there is nothing we can do at that point. Remain silent. Know your rights.”

Vega was joined by Sergio Lagunas, a representative from El Concilio Family Services, an Oxnard based organization that provides consultation on immigration matters and citizenship classes to the Latino community.

The organization will offer free DACA renewals on Sept. 27 for those who are still eligible that might not be able to afford the $495 fee. Renewals will no longer be processed after Oct. 5, so they must be submitted before the deadline. Those interested can call 805-486-9777.

“Now with the Trump effect, people are a little more fearful or more activated,” said Lagunas. “It’s all about how do we protect you from misinformation, from that fear-mongering that is going on in the executive branch.”

The forum included a presentation on the rights immigrants are entitled to, should they come into contact with immigration officials. Lagunas stressed that DACA recipients have the right to remain silent based on the 5th Amendment, and that per the 4th Amendment, anyone can refuse searches of their property without a warrant signed by a judge or magistrate.

“A lot of people don’t know their bill of rights,” said Lagunas. “Even if you are a not naturalized citizen or undocumented or whatever your status is in this country, as long as you live here you are protected by the Constitution.”

In addition, there was a surprise visit from consul for protection and legal affairs Javier Cerritos de los Santos, a member of the Mexican consulate in Oxnard. According to Cerritos, the consulate can offer legal assistance to Mexican immigrants who wish to remain in the United States.

“Sometimes people say ‘Oh, I won’t go to the consulate, they won’t help. I’ll just waste my time,’” said Cerritos. “It’s not true. The reality is, we help a lot of people. Any legal assistance.”

Cerritos said that the Mexican consulate is a safe place for immigrants to ask questions, but stressed that any legal assistance on their part requires identification of Mexican citizenship. DACA recipients from other countries are welcome to ask questions, but should turn to their own consulate for more assistance.

For those in attendance, like 31-year-old nursing student Teresa Henriquez, the forum offered a chance to find answers, as well as network with peers and learn of the support services on campus.

“It was a great opportunity for me to find information that I’m unaware of, to get to know people that are in the same situation as I am, learn about resources, and get my questions answered,” said Henriquez.

 

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