UC Santa Barbara Improving Dreams, Equality, Access & Success (I.D.E.A.S.) hosted the “Undocu-generations” conference at the Student Resource Building Saturday to engage students, parents and community members in a discussion on access to higher education for students and parents with undocumented backgrounds.
Students founded I.D.E.A.S. in 2006 to create a community and provide financial and academic support for undocumented individuals. The organization hosts an annual conference, with this year’s forum focused on empowering young students, teachers and community members to overcome adversity while obtaining a college education.
Undocu-generations provided educational workshops to inform students of legislation that applies to undocumented citizens such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA), Assembly Bill 60 Drivers Licenses for Undocumented Citizens and the California Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act (California D.R.E.A.M. Act ). The California D.R.E.A.M. Act allows undocumented children who have received K-12 schooling to apply for financial aid as they move on to higher education.
Third-year history major and I.D.E.A.S. member Aaron Ravelez said his undocumented relatives can benefit from the information provided during the workshops about overcoming financial difficulties in college.
“I have stepsiblings who are undocumented students themselves,” Ravelez said. “I want them to navigate college successfully, because it is much harder for them to figure out how to afford college as opposed to somebody who has legal documents.”
According to Ravelez, I.D.E.A.S. acts as a support group to uplift students who feel unmotivated or marginalized.
“We support people here at I.D.E.A.S. and cheer people up who are feeling down,” Ravelez said. “The whole point is to help each other out at all times, no matter how difficult the situation is.”
Ravelez also said the event informs undocumented students and parents on how to access higher education and utilize their resources in college or at a university.
“We want them to navigate through college, get scholarships and receive information on how to get to higher education,” Ravelez said. “They have to go through so much more than people who are not undocumented.”
According to fourth-year black studies and environmental studies double major and I.D.E.A.S. Art Historian Gloria Campos, UCSB is one of few campuses that provides undocumented students and parents with the necessary information on how to access university education.
“Unfortunately, many schools are not ready to fill undocumented students with the information on how to acquire higher education,” Campos said. “We are filling that gap and void today with our information. Community organizations are out here as well in order to support parents at the same time.”
Campos said Undocu-generations is the first conference open to families.
“This is the first year where we have invited parents to accompany students, because we usually only cater to young high school students,” Campos said. “There is a lot of pertinent information which makes this a good conference.”
UCSB alumnus and I.D.E.A.S. member Manuel Ugarte said he is aware of the many challenges and lack of resources undocumented students face because of his experience as a Santa Barbara local.
“I have always lived within the Santa Barbara area, and I know it is very hard to outreach to children for them to get an actual education,” Ugarte said. “They do not have the guidance, help, resources and motivation to continue, and the problem still exists in middle and high schools.”
First-year political science major and I.D.E.A.S. member Mariel Islas Lopez said the conference provides important information to the Latin community, as many fear being deported if they ask for guidance from a school counselor who may be opposed to illegal immigration.
“It provides them with a safe space where they can obtain resources and not be scared of deportation,” Islas Lopez said. “They will not be scared of the stigma of being undocumented because several counselors oppose the idea of undocumented students.”
According to Islas Lopez, I.D.E.A.S. lacked funding from Associated Students while planning for the conference. Islas said Undocu-generations was funded with the help of other on-campus organizations that assisted with promoting and organizing the event.
“We had to do fundraisers and aid from other orgs who donated time and money to make promotional posters and flyers,” Islas said. “Due to the lack of funding, we could not make the event bigger, but we know that we made a positive impact on the lives of these students today.”
Islas said the goal of the event was to show children of all ages that it is possible to graduate from a university, regardless of their background or legal status in this country.
“We provide this conference to students who need it, especially in the central coast of California where the [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] institution is very active,” Islas said. “The goal of the event is to show children that it is possible to get a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree regardless of obstacles.”