A Georgetown University group that promotes accessible education for youth without documentation hosted three more events than last year and increased the number of co-sponsorship opportunities with student organizations during its third annual UndocuWeek.
Through UndocuWeek, which runs from April 6 to April 12, GU Undocumented Student Support Services aims to address topics relating to the experiences of students without documentation through educational sessions, events and community activities during the entire week.
The educational campaign seeks to raise awareness about the experiences of students without documentation not only at Georgetown but nationwide, according to Arelis Palacios, associate director for undocumented student services within the Center for Multicultural Equity and Access.
“We seek to address broader immigration topics related to family separation, immigration detention, experiences across graduate levels, and political activism,” Palacios wrote in an email to The Hoya.
The week includes information sessions on allyship and life in detention centers, a screening of the documentary “Salud Sin Papeles” and two events on the intersection of political activism and art.
This year’s UndocuWeek increased the number of days during which the organization hosted two events and includes co-sponsorship from more student groups than last year, according to Arisaid Gonzalez Porras (COL ’21), co-president of Hoyas for Immigrant Rights, a student advocacy group administered by the Center for Social Justice.
“This year we did two events per day which has been kind of hectic but also pretty amazing that we’ve gotten so far,” Gonzalez Porras said. “Some of the events that are different is that we partnered with the medical school, which we haven’t done before. We also highlighted other narratives that are not normally shared or you don’t normally see in the mainstream.”
While the main coordinators for the week are the student leaders of Hoyas for Immigrant Rights, other organizations that are co-sponsors include the Georgetown Scholars Program and Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán, an advocacy group for students identifying as Chicanx. The LGBTQ Resource Center, Georgetown University College Democrats, GU Pride and others also co-sponsored.
The collaboration of these student groups to support students without documentation and address broader immigration issues is encouraging and exciting, according to Palacios.
“I’m excited to see the allyship and solidarity building across different student groups, as a showing of support to our community members, but also as a showing of their commitment to broader social issues,” Palacios wrote.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy grants immigrants without documentation who arrived in the United States as children protection from deportation. In 2012, former President Barack Obama issued the DACA executive order after the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, a bill that would grant minors without documentation a path to citizenship, did not pass in Congress several times.
In the future, Gonzalez Porras said she would also like to see an event that shares the story of parents of DACA policy recipients and other students without documentation, who are often portrayed negatively in society. The young people affected by DACA and the DREAM Act are often referred to as dreamers.
“I think I would love to see more about the, we call it the original dreamers, or our parents, that usually are the ones that are criminalized in the narrative,” Gonzales Porras said. “And maybe like if some students feel comfortable to speak about how it’s been like for their parents, because a lot of parents don’t want to speak on their experiences just because they’re still scared since they’re not protected.”
UndocuWeek began April 6 with a Mass at Holy Trinity Catholic Church with Bishop Mario Dorsonville. There are two events scheduled for each day except Friday, when the week is scheduled to end with the Undocuqueer Coffee Hour with the LGBTQ center from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Undocumented Student Resources were launched in 2016, when University President John J. DeGioia reaffirmed Georgetown’s commitment to supporting students without documentation.
“As a university located in our nation’s capital and animated by our Catholic and Jesuit identity, we are called to support all of our students, including our undocumented students,” DeGioia wrote on the university website. “These young women and men demonstrate an extraordinary passion to make America, and our increasingly interconnected world, a better place.”