She remembered her aunt and uncle telling her, “From now on, until we get home, we’re your mom and dad.”As a child, the topic of immigration didn’t make a lot of sense to Francel Resendiz, 20, a fashion merchandise major and president of the Improving Dreams, Equality, Access and Success political organization, also known as I.D.E.A.S.
I.D.E.A.S. is a place where students can find a helping hand to navigate through all of the particular requirements of laws like AB 540 and recently AB 131, better known as part two of the California Dream Act. Students can also find information about workshops with immigration attorneys, application adjustments and expungement workshops. “It has been a great deal of help,” said Manuel Castaneda, 21, mechanical engineering student attending one of the club meetings.
According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, “Beginning in 2013, illegal immigrants accepted by state universities may receive assistance from Cal-Grants, a public program that last year provided aid to more than 370,000 low-income students.”
The article also reported that undocumented students who attended high school in California for at least three years, have proof that they are attempting to go through the process of legalizing their immigration status and are enrolled in either the University of California or Cal State University systems would be eligible for institutional grants. Undocumented students in community colleges would be eligible for fee waivers.
As a political organization, informing students about current laws and workshops is one of I.D.E.A.S. priorities, though it isn’t all they do. One undocumented student, who asked not to be named, talked about the fear felt by many illegal immigrants. “From the moment you are little, like in elementary school, you are taught to be scared and you are taught to hide being undocumented by your parents, and
it carries on in high school and it carries on in college, and many students at the moment at Mt. SAC still live with that fear.”
“We want everyone to know we are a safe space,” said Elmer Rodriguez adviser of I.D.E.A.S. and high school outreach specialist. Students in the group have a rule where they do not say who is and is not undocumented. I.D.E.A.S. is a group open to all students interested in social justice, undocumented or not.
I.D.E.A.S. is a place to learn and grow. “It’s almost like a small community within a community,” said Rodriguez. They have their own little library where they donate and checkout used textbooks for others in the group to use. In one of their past meetings they watched the movie “A Better Life.” They have plans of painting a movable mural depicting their ideals artistically, which should be ready to display in the fall.
- Martha Landeros