Unveiling the Dream

Unveiling the Dream

By Jocelyn Tabancay Duffy

When school faculty and staff are responsible for conveying the most accurate information to their students, lack of awareness or discrimination can hinder undocumented students from knowing and perusing their options in work and education. Even well-meaning staff and faculty can also hurt students and spiral them into more emotional stress. Macias, a fourth-year psychology major retold an experience that disheartened her spirits and outlook after graduation.

“Last quarter in one of my classes…the professor had the board full of different positions and things we can do with a psychology degree…Everyone seemed so excited because it was all these possibilities that none of us knew [about] or considered. But that’s the hardest part for me: every time that I hear something new that I can’t do.”

Macias’ experience is not uncommon. Immigration and Psychosocial Functioning critic and academic, William Pérez interviewed Latino undocumented college students where 63 percent described general attitudes among student services personnel who convey the sense that undocumented students should not be allowed to enroll. Facing the failures of institutional support and consuming discrimination, the most successful undocumented students adapt by drawing inward, finding support through the communities they participate in.

“SIN is a group a friends who understand what I’m going through. I can explain [my obstacles] to them and I don’t have to break it down,” says Macias.

Flipping through the campus physiological health services website, white counselors are the extreme majority.

“There’s really no ethnic counselors…[The counselors] usually come and say ‘Can’t you file for citizenship?’ I’m not stupid, I’ve thought of those options. That’s not the type of help I need,” she vented.

Students are expected to explain the politics of their situation before addressing their psychological needs, it’s exhausting for knowledgeable students like Macias and Padilla. It is an unrealistic expectation as many students are unaware of the history and politics affecting them.

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Meet Your Student Org: SIN

One Last article about SIN by City on a Hill Press

Published February 21, 2008 at 1:00 am

By Maricela Lechuga

For some, a knock on the door is never as harmless as it seems.

“You always have this fear of having to look over your shoulder,” said Luis, a fifth-year computer engineering major. “You have to be careful of what you say, because [if] you tell the wrong people you never know what might happen to you. There might be a knock at the door saying, ‘This is ICE [Immigration and Custom Enforcement].’”

Luis, who like other members did not wish to give his last name, has been involved in Students Informing Now (SIN) for two years. SIN is an action-based organization composed of both AB 540 students and their allies.

The group’s activism is based on the education and promotion of immigrant rights, specifically AB 540, the non-resident tuition exemption law under which undocumented students and non-resident documented students qualify to pay in-state tuition at California universities after three years of attending a California high school or earning a California GED.

Although non-resident students can pay in-state tuition at California universities, they do not have the opportunity to apply for financial aid.

Therefore, they are frequently forced to finance their education through working multiple jobs and applying for private scholarships.

Juan, a first-year SIN member, talked about the extra struggle that AB 540 students face in order to make ends meet.

“We’re students, yet we have this extra stuff that we have to worry about,” Juan said. “Unlike many other students who were privileged enough to be born here in the United States and who don’t have to worry about not having enough money for tuition, we have to apply to many scholarships in order to have enough money to pay for tuition and housing.”

For this reason, SIN advocates the right to a free education for everyone by promoting and advocating the Federal Dream Act and the California Dream Act, which would allow immigrant students to gain permanent status if accepted to a four-year university and thus be allowed to apply for financial aid.

More than just a student organization, SIN has become a safe haven for AB 540 students searching for security in a country which they feel has been hostile towards their identities, through realities such as immigration raids and minutemen that terrorize immigrant communities and force them to live in a constant state of fear.

Mariela, a third-year theater arts major, explains how SIN is a safety net that turns the apprehension evoked by one’s illegal status into a platform for resistance, allowing herself and others to live a life “sin vergüenza,” or “without shame.”

“Our presence as a group, our [mere] existence is a way of creating safety in an unsafe world because the world isn’t welcoming to what we do,” Mariela said. “In a world where you live in fear because of your identity, SIN is a form of resistance toward that fear and a way of fighting it.”

In collaboration with UCSC professors Kysa Nygreen and Veronica Velez, the SIN collective wrote an academic article that is already accessible in two different UCSC course readers.

The article is titled “Students Informing Now Challenge the Racial State in California without shame … SIN vergüenza.”

They will be presenting this scholarly article at the American Educational Research Association in New York over spring break. However, due to issues of legal status, not all members of SIN will be able to attend the conference.

Despite this, members who consider themselves privileged enough to travel, such as Mariela, recognize the importance of representing what SIN stands for across the country in a responsible and conscious manner. Not all people living in this country live with the same freedoms, Mariela said.

“SIN is recognizing the privilege I carry by having a social security number,” Mariela said.

_For more information on SIN, contact the group at

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Students’ ‘DREAM’ Crushed Senate votes down the DREAM Act despite student protests

This is another old article previous published about SIN.

Students’ ‘DREAM’ Crushed
Senate votes down the DREAM Act despite student protests
By Pearl Perez
City on a Hill Press
Published January 13, 2011 at 3:09 am
Rosie Talks about the Dream Act
Rosalee Cabrera discusses the current state of the DREAM Act, which failed to pass by five votes. Photo by Molly Solomon.

Despite the long efforts of student protestors, which led to nine UCLA students facing felony charges and the possible deportation of four ASU students, the Senate voted on Dec. 18 to not pass the DREAM Act. The dream of 20,000 immigrants in California, and 2 million immigrants across the country, was tossed into the realm of impossibilities as the act fell five votes short of the 60 required to pass. Had the DREAM Act passed, the “DREAMers” — those who would benefit from the act —would be able to gain legal status by pursuing post-high school education or joining the military.

The majority of 55 votes for the act came from Democrats, while the 41 against were Republicans. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) gave his opinion about why the act failed to pass.

“Unfortunately, [the DREAM Act] has fallen prey to the shameful cowardice of white politics,” he said during the DREAM Act Senate news conference on Dec. 18. “It’s a shame that white politics took the center course of this set of events.”

During this same news conference, Majority Leader Harry Reid addressed Republicans’ concern over the safety of the U.S. borders and the availability of education spots for Americans, as well as tuition assistance. He also explained why immigrant children should not be denied an education.

“Senate Rep­ublicans have spent years de­monizing [immigrant] children; they’ve played to people’s worst fears,” Reid said. “They didn’t decide to come here…didn’t control the conditions in which they came.”

This brought forth the issue of having the children of immigrants pay for the actions of their parents.

A majority of Republicans voted against the Act.

Republican Tom Graves called it “a pathway to amnesty to encourage millions more illegal immigrants in our country,” while Republican Steve King said, “This bill [is] really not a dream; it’s a nightmare for tax payers of this country and for America itself.”

In response to these arguments used against the DREAM Act in the Senate, Rosalee Cabrera, the director of the Chicano Latino Resource Center here at UCSC and supporter of the act, stated the “DREAM Act [is] caught in a time warp of politics…the agenda [in Congress] has everything to do with not allowing an Obama proposal to pass.”

For Cabrera, the immigration conundrum in politics is reminiscent of playground brawls among school boys and girls — Democrats and Republicans — where nobody wins. When the Senate spat a big “No!” on the DREAM Act, the Republicans gained back the few feet they had lost when Obama’s Health Reform passed.

However, critics of the act say that the Democrats’ support is political maneuvering to gain the vote of the Latino populace for November. Whatever the case, students supporting and hoping to benefit from the act were devastated.

One such student is UCSC student Marissa Camacho, who is actively involved in the DREAM Network, an organization that supports and spreads awareness about the act.

“I felt disappointed about how the vote came about,” Camacho said. “It was really rushed.”

Omar Villa was also upset by the vote. Villa is a former AB 540 student and member of the Students Informing Now program, which supports undocumented students currently pursuing higher education at UCSC.

“Democrats were very weak,” he said. “They didn’t keep it together. A lot of them voted against [the act] and some senators didn’t even show up.”

He added that since Republicans have now taken over the Senate, it will be increasingly difficult for the DREAM Act to pass.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) repeatedly stated his support of the act, yet he neglected to vote when the day came.

For the moment the DREAM Act will have to wait, yet Reid gave comforting words during the news conference to the supporters of the act.

“We’re not going to give up,” Reid said. “The DREAM Act is going to pass … it’s the right thing to do, not just for the future of young Americans but for our own.”

This is “just a small stop,” Cabrera said, “there will be another effort, we need to get out there and do more work.”

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Art For Society’s Sake

“Art For Society’s Sake

Illustration by Kiri Rasmussen.

Illustration by Kiri Rasmussen.

By Katelyn Jacobson
Published January 7, 2010 at 1:30 am

For AB540 students, art is a fist harnessing a movement.

AB540, or Assembly Bill 540, is the designation given to non-resident students paying in-state tuition. The bill allows undocumented students to save thousands of dollars a year, making it possible to afford higher education.

The 2001 bill is controversial, standing against opponents of immigrant rights.

The topic of immigration has been debated with a fervor only a border state could whip up, and the students now collected under the AB540 banner have been funneling frustrations into the visual and performing arts in efforts to share personal stories about an issue affecting thousands.

Students Informing Now (SIN) is a UCSC-born group that uses, among other things, different art forms to support fellow immigrant students and children of immigrants.

“It’s not for the purpose of entertainment, but to empower people,” said Mariella Saba, UCSC alumnus and co-founder of SIN. “It’s difficult to say that you’re undocumented, especially in front of other people. We wanted to show people that we were human beings, because we have an identity that is very much dehumanized.”

Saba herself has focused on theater as an an outlet to protest the criminalization of immigrants. She also framed it as a battle for visibility, an effort to create the images that have been pushed under mainstream radar.

“When I think about art I think about art of the people,” Saba said. “Art can be very elitist, as if only a few people have talent. We need to take hold of our art, and appropriate the form for ourselves … we’re filling a void, we’re creating art that doesn’t exist.”

Xochiltquetzal*, a community studies major and AB540 student, teaches art at a charter school and believes that the importance of resistance art lies partly in the truth that it tells.

“The essence of art doesn’t have the rules and structure that other things do,” Xochiltquetzal said. “Real thoughts are convoluted, and art is especially effective because it’s what you’re actually thinking, not what you want other people to think you’re thinking.”

It has also been able to aid in meaningful political changes, and Saba referenced the influence of art upon legislation at an individual level.

“A lot of the art is local, reflecting whatever environment the artist is in,” Saba said. “And there are a lot more local battles to fight. … I’ve been able to see [the art] from the local perspective, impacting and transforming and creating dialogue.”

It effects change not only in the opposition camps, but the artists themselves as they come to terms with a status unrecognized by the country they call home.

“It’s a form of survival as well,” Saba said. “I have friends whose lives have been changed by theater. Like, they’ve been down, or in gangs, and being given a chance to tell their stories really awakens their spirit.”

A common theme in Saba’s work is a protestation against the labels immigrants are saddled with, including the term “illegal.”

“It’s an imposed identity,” Saba said. “It’s been made to be a part of me, but I’m human. I’m a whole person.”

Xochiltquetzal voiced the differences between protest art and what most people see as “high” art.

“Without a story you’re just left with the aesthetics,” Xochiltquetzal said. “Once you add a certain narrative to it, it changes.”

The creation of art is an intrinsic process with strength to resist the reigning power of opinion. For these students, it is also the way they convey their message.

“Because we’re representing current politics, our art is a form of documenting what is going on everywhere,” Saba said. “If you’re not voicing something, then it’s not existing.”

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