Below the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court, Santa Ana College students and allies hung their heads and prayed in the chilled, nighttime air. Oral arguments on a case that could affect about 70,000 California community college students would begin the next morning.
“We said a prayer for those who couldn’t be there that day and for those who were going in[to] the Supreme Court,” said Luisa Lopez Alejandre, Co-Chair of SAC’s Improving Dreams, Equity, Access and Success Club.
On Nov. 12, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — a program that allows students to have a social security number and apply for financial aid — went before the court with a decision expected in 2020.
Four SAC students went to Washington D.C. with the California-Mexico Studies Center last month to advocate for undocumented students. Now, they’re bringing the fight back to campus.
According to the most recent SAC Student Satisfaction survey, one in 10 students reported themselves as undocumented. One of their major concerns is the potential increase in DACA renewal prices from $495 to $765.
To help with these costs, some of the I.D.E.A.S. club members met with Rep. Lou Correra in Washington D.C. about starting a DACA Renewal Fund.
On-campus, the Undocu-Scholars Program offers additional resources to students, whether or not they are recipients of DACA.
“As a state, we recognize that immigrants are part of the community that is helping our state thrive and want to make sure that they know that,” counselor and Undocu-Scholars Program Coordinator Maribel Pineda said. “In the California Community College system, immigrant students [and their] family members, are welcomed and we are here to serve them.
Uncertainty of the court’s decision won’t stop the I.D.E.A.S. club from advocating for undocumented students on a local and national level.
“Whatever happens in the Supreme Court, it doesn’t matter because we’re still going to stay here whether they allow us to or not,” Lopez said. “It’s not up to them. It’s up to us.”