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UToledo holds (Un)documented Students Ally Training

By Steven Bieber

The Supreme Court will hear arguments on Tuesday on the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, an Obama-era program protecting individuals brought to the United States as children from deportation.  

President Donald Trump  moved to end the initiative in 2017 and has pushed immigration to the forefront of the national conversation. 

The complexities of immigration law likely sparks questions for students unfamiliar with the system.

The University of Toledo’s Office of Multicultural Student Success held an (Un)documented Students Ally Training on Thursday, October 31 to help attendees understand the unique challenges that undocumented students face and how to be an effective ally. 

“This is a human rights issue; this is a population of students that we want to have on our campus,” said Aleiah Jones, the Program Coordinator for Latinos at the Office of Student Affairs who ran the program. 

 She is hoping to spread awareness. The most important thing she wants to teach people is “the unique challenges that undocumented students face.” 

The training included a brief slide show presentation and an open discussion about undocumented students.

The students are classified as people who were brought illegally from another country as children, or who have previously had a visa or green card that was simply never renewed. 

The most common reasons for not re-applying: a long and often expensive process, the threat of denial or previous denial and subsequent deportation. 

The training focused in part on the challenges undocumented students face.

One of the largest obstacles mentioned was lack of a Social Security number, which makes it impossible to obtain a driver’s license. 

The students also tend to be first generation college students (no other family members have college experience). This often increases difficulty navigating the college admissions process and comes with limited access to internships and other out-of-classroom opportunities.  

Living in fear of deportation also serves as a barrier. 

A tip the trianing emphasized:  never try to out someone as an undocumented student. The training stressed the importance of making the students feel safe because of the stress and pressures they already face.

On-campus resources include the Office of Multicultural Student Success, Joe Guziolek, the Assistant Director of International Admission, and The Center for International Studies and Programs. 

Students can make a difference in this issue; Jones’ suggestion is to “have a general knowledge about it and be willing to be an ally and to take a general interest in people’s lived experiences. Knowing that what people see in the media is not necessarily true.” 

The exact number of undocumented students at UT is unknown, but Jones estimates there are “dozens.”

To learn more about legal policies concerning undocumented students Jones recommends going to Advocates for Basic Legal Equalities. She also said students can contact her  at aleiah.jones@utoledo.edu

There will be two more trainings that students can attend. The first will be on Nov. 26 at noon and the second will be on Dec. 9 at 4 p.m. Both trainings will take place in room 2591 of the Student Union.

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