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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Meet an Aggie DREAMer provides platform for discussion

A panel on Wednesday night worked to raise awareness about the undocumented student population at Texas A&M.

The panel, hosted by Council for Minority Student Affairs, was called “Meet an Aggie Dreamer.” After addressing the political, social and humanitarian goals that are part of the organization, the panelists were introduced.

Blanca Leyva, supply chain management junior, is a recipient of DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. DACA was implemented by President Obama’s administration when the DREAM Act failed to pass. The DREAM Act, or Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, was intended to provide a pathway to legal status for children of undocumented immigrants who arrived before the age of 16.

“I interned with one of the biggest accounting firms last summer because of DACA,” Leyva said. “It is what got me interested in doing financial consulting. I want to be able to be able to give money to the community that needs it.”

Cinthia Cruz, business sophomore from Mexico, crossed the border at the age of 10 on her own. Cruz said wants to own her business, but more importantly she wants to be a provider of scholarships for those who want to attend higher education, especially those in low income areas.

Francisco Calderon, biology sophomore and only child that was born outside of the United States, wants to go to medical school after graduating.

“I have always wanted to help people. I want to be in a position where I am able to do so,” Calderon said. “I want to go back to where I come from in Arlington and be able to provide the healthcare that is missing there.”

Alfredo Garcia, a graduate student currently attending Harvard Divinity School for theology that graduated from Texas A&M in 2015, was present from Massachusetts through a teleconference video call. Garcia wants to obtain a PhD after his graduate degree.

“I want to help tutor and mentor kids that want to go to graduate school,” Garcia says.

The panelists testified about the struggles of trying to attend a higher education institution when financial aid is limited. The rest of the panelists agreed about the anxiety they face when having to check the “Not a U.S. citizen” for most scholarships, since many times checking such option can disqualify an applicant.

Jennifer Rivas, psychology freshman from El Salvador and first generation college student, participated in the panel and said she wants to be a physical therapist and to help disabled kids get back into their regular lives.

“You don’t know how hard it is to talk about these things in front of a room full of strangers,” Rivas said. “This is our private life. You grow up with a mentality that you are inferior and that something is wrong with you.”

Garcia said he had to do house painting as he graduated A&M to pay off loans. Garcia was inspired by the Chicano movement and writings by Mexican-American authors.

“Read books that will help you stand up for yourself and your community,” Garcia says. “I experience people looking at me differently because of my ethnicity.”

Asked about what the school and administration can do for the DREAMer community by an audience member, Calderon said having the counselors present the resources at student orientation so parents can feel safe leaving their undocumented children at College Station could be helpful. Cruz agreed.

“The most important part of this process is for us to be seen, to let others know that we exist,” Cruz said.

Rivas said she is frustrated that the system is not being fully educated when it comes to these issues.

“As a DACA student, I am allowed to apply for federal student financial aid,” Rivas says. “I have to sit there and explain to counselors for over 30 minutes that I am able to apply.”

Melanie Garza, president of CMSA, invites the general population to ask questions.

“We want to provide resources that are easily available. Our goal is to have a resource center for undocumented students,” Garza said.

Currently, Deferred Action for Parents of America is under attack as it is being challenged by 27 states in federal court. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 800,000 have been benefitted from this executive action. Panelists recommended that students concerned with immigration problems as it relates to their educational experiences approach Student Counseling Services, who are able to provide very valuable support and recommend it to Aggies that have similar struggles.

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