Undocumented students come ‘out of the shadows’

DREAMMembers of a new organization of undocumented students at UIC are ready to make themselves heard.

Monday at 2 p.m., a group called the Fearless Undocumented Alliance will gather in the Lecture Center quad for “Coming out of the Shadows,” sharing personal stories and demonstrating for equal access to scholarships, financial aid and in-state tuition.

“We are here and we’re not just students that can be brushed aside and silenced,” said Natalie Cruz, an Honors College student studying entrepreneurship. “We deserve to be treated equally like everyone else.”

“One of the main issues undocumented students face is a lack of funding and so we have an even more difficult time graduating college,” said Cruz, who has lived in the U.S. as an undocumented resident for 21 years and attended public school in Illinois.

“When you’re paying out of pocket it makes the experience much more difficult.”

The state passed a law in 2011 establishing the Illinois DREAM Fund, which awards privately funded scholarships to some undocumented students. However, undocumented students are not eligible for federal and state financial aid. Under Illinois law, in-state tuition rates are available to undocumented students who meet certain conditions; others must pay out-of-state tuition. More information for undocumented UIC students is available from the Office of Diversity and Office of Academic Affairs.

The federal DREAM Act, which would provide a conditional path to citizenship for undocumented residents who came to the U.S. as children, graduated from a U.S. high school and attended college or served in the military, was first introduced in Congress in 2001 and has failed to pass five times.

“We want to be here and we deserve to be here just as much as anybody else, and we’re not going to stop,”  said Jocelyn Munguia Chavez, an undocumented student and a junior in psychology. 

For more information about the group, email uicfua@gmail.com

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