Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

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Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

2nd Annual UndocuWeek Aims to Garner Support for ‘Dreamers’

A second annual UndocuWeek planned for next month aims to raise awareness and garner support for students without documentation, whose futures remain uncertain after unsuccessful congressional efforts to pass a permanent legislative replacement for the rescinded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

This year’s UndocuWeek, scheduled to run from April 16 to 20, is an important step to raise awareness about students without documentation in the Georgetown community and beyond, said Associate Director for Undocumented Student Services Arelis Palacios at an information session held in the Intercultural Center Auditorium on Tuesday.

The week includes a series of educational discussions, movie screenings and community activities designed to actualize the university’s vision of cura personalis, or care for the whole person.

Tuesday’s information session discussed the university’s continuing advocacy efforts and the status of current DACA litigation in response to community concern over the vulnerability of DACA recipients.


Last September, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the rescission of DACA, an executive program put into effect during the administration of former President Barack Obama that temporarily protected about 690,000 immigrants without documentation who were brought to the United States as children from deportation.

Federal district courts in California and New York have since issued nationwide injunctions blocking the Trump administration from ending the program. While the administration appeals the injunctions, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services must continue renewing permits for current DACA recipients but does not have to accept new applications.

Efforts to pass permanent protections for immigrants without documentation have stalled in Congress.

Palacios, who has helped plan UndocuWeek, said her longtime advocacy for immigrants without documentation stems from her hope to reshape the negative societal perceptions around student DACA recipients.

“What I want to do is carve out some of the negativity and toxic rhetoric away from them so they can continue to persist here uninterrupted,” Palacios said.

At Tuesday’s information session, Palacios spoke alongside Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson, Vice President and General Counsel Lisa Brown, Associate Vice President for Federal Relations Scott Fleming and Mizraim Belman Guerrero (SFS ’20), a member of UndocuHoyas, a group that advocates for students without documentation.

Palacios said UndocuWeek will not just focus on data alone, which she feels can lead to an incomplete conception about the true significance about the debate on DACA.

“When I think about what it means to teach this to others, understand that it’s about facts and data,” Palacios said, “but it’s also about family, humanity and giving you the tools to understand this data in a very nuanced way.”

Belman Guerrero echoed Palacios’s sentiment and stressed the importance of recognizing the humanity of students without documentation.

“It’s important to humanize the issue and the people being affected, because at the end of the day, we’re humans, we’re students and we’re really here to try to make the best life that we can,” Belman Guerrero said.

Tuesday’s information session and the second annual UndocuWeek mark the latest efforts in a broad campaign by Georgetown administrators and students to advocate for DACA recipients.

Last September, Georgetown students wrote letters to call upon members of Congress to support the Dream Act of 2017 through the Friends of the Dreamers campaign hosted by the Office of Federal Relations and the Georgetown University Student Association.

Also in September, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) (SFS ’66, LAW ’69) — the lead sponsor of the original DREAM Act since 2001 — invited a number of Georgetown DACA recipients to Capitol Hill and delivered a speech to his Senate colleagues championing the Dream Act of 2017.

In December, Georgetown filed amicus briefs in defense of DACA beneficiaries for the cases in California and New York. Seventeen other Jesuit colleges and universities have also filed amicus briefs to demonstrate the interest institutions of higher education have in the case.

“We’re basically saying how important DACA students are to our campuses and what the impact of the revocation of DACA will be, not only on DACA recipients but also on the university and on the nation overall. We’re going to file in the 9th Circuit case as well,” Brown said.

Since September, University President John J. DeGioia has repeatedly lobbied members of Congress to pass the Dream Act of 2017, including in personal letters to alumni lawmakers and in an October op-ed in The Hill with three other university presidents.

Meanwhile, Georgetown’s Undocumented Student Services team has been working to formalize and expand its services for community members without documentation.

The university has also made recent headway in extending its support system for students without documentation to the graduate level.

“The reality of deportation is an overlay that quite literally hangs over the student on top of their financial, academic and familial stresses,” Palacios said. “For graduate students, who are in an even more precarious predicament, I’m very pleased that we have been able to raise enough funds to cover all their immigration fees at this point.”

Fleming said the university will continue its support for everyone the DACA rescission has affected leading up to the Supreme Court’s review of the issue next fall.

“We have to think about how we can keep this issue alive,” Fleming said. “We have many ideas for advocacy between now and then, and we’re in it for the long haul.”

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