Georgetown University students hosted a fundraiser to support immigrants in need of legal representation, raising over $1000 for the cause.
At the Oct. 3 event entitled “Iced Drinks Against ICE,” students from the Vietnamese Student Association (VSA), Hoyas for Immigrant Rights (HFIR) and Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán (MEChA), a student organization whose mission is to empower Mexican Americans through advocacy, sold iced beverages for $5 each, doubling their goal of $500 within the first few hours of the event.
Proceeds from the event went to Immigrant Defenders Law Center (ImmDef), an organization that provides legal representation to thousands of immigrants from nearly two dozen countries.
Mikhail Floresca (NHS ’24), co-president of HFIR, said immigration law and misconduct from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agency is a personal issue for many Georgetown students.
“Displaced communities hit close to home for many people who identify as first-gen or immigrants here at Georgetown,” Floresca wrote to The Hoya. “With the mistreatment at the border and the recent bussing of migrants from Texas and Arizona to D.C., the narrative of migrant hot potato continues –– the government keeps passing us around like cargo, moving us back and forth without thoughts of our feelings and plights.”
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is a government agency tasked with securing the U.S. border and enforcing immigration law. According to Human Rights Watch, over 160 reports of misconduct were filed against ICE from 2016 to 2021, including assault, sexual abuse and discrimination. In addition, ICE frequently conducts raids on workplaces and residential areas, often arriving unannounced and separating families in the process.
Funds raised at the event went to ImmDef because of its work in uplifting migrants and providing them with essential research, said Tahis Meza (COL ’24), co-president of MEChA.
“For our club, being inherently political, it was important to agree to work with organizations that further our political agenda aiding the Latine community and ultimately empowering and liberating the oppressed,” Meza wrote to The Hoya.
Annually, ImmDef helps more than 1,500 children defend themselves before judges and navigate the U.S. court system, something they would otherwise have had to do on their own. Currently, around 4,000 people are held in detention at the southern border in California every day, according to Freedom for Immigrants, a non-profit whose mission is to abolish immigration detention. Many have reported abuse in the detention centers, including medical neglect, limited food availability and inhumane solitary confinement.
Meza said Georgetown students should be aware of the injustice within the immigration system.
“I think the overall immigration system is deeply flawed in creating a cycle of migrants forced to come to the U.S. as a result of the conditions of their home state, only to be immediately illegalized upon arrival,” Meza wrote to The Hoya. “Students, being future leaders, ought to be conscious of the structural issues present in our government, present in our systems and present in the foundations of this country.”
VSA community outreach chair Angela Nguyen (COL ’24), who came up with the idea to host a fundraiser for immigrant rights, said VSA wanted to create a truly multicultural event that engaged multiple student organizations in a common goal.
“We had 3 organizations collaborating: one cultural org, one cultural-political org and one activist org, and we all came together because we all believe in something, and we made it work,” Nguyen said in an interview with The Hoya. “I feel like lots of times students feel like they have to do everything on their own, but that’s not the case. There is a whole community out there ready to support.”
Floresca said he hopes the event will inspire students to take further action toward immigration justice.
“Far too often are people taking a bystander’s view of the issue,” Floresca wrote. “When families and livelihoods are on the line, HFIR firmly believes that people should come to learn more about the issue at hand. Going beyond recognizing to understanding is a huge step toward finding and addressing these injustices.”
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