Bruin Republicans members voiced support for the term “illegal immigrant” and expressed their concerns with the undergraduate student government at a meeting Wednesday night.
The main discussion of their meeting, called “Call it what it is: Illegal Immigration,” came in response to an Undergraduate Students Association Council resolution that criticized the use of the term “illegal” in reference to undocumented individuals, said William Chakar, a third-year molecular biology student and chairman of Bruin Republicans. The resolution was passed unanimously in August.
About 30 students talked about the right to free speech, their concerns with individuals entering the United States illegally and their beliefs that the USAC resolution did not represent the holistic viewof the student body.
USAC members were told about the event, but none were present at Wednesday’s event.
USAC President John Joanino said the purpose of the USAC resolution was to ensure that students feel safe on campus and to spark dialogue about the issue.
“We’re trying to advocate for justice and equity,” he said. “It’s not a matter of conservative versus radical.”
Joanino added that he thinks some members of Bruin Republicans misinterpreted the resolution as a ban of the word “illegal” rather than a political stance by USAC.
Chakar, who said he is a member of the USAC Office of the External Vice President and General Representative 3 Office, said he thinks the council acted radically and has been unresponsive to the student body’s demands.
Of the 30 students at the meeting, two individuals who identified themselves as undocumented immigrants spoke.
Vlad Stoicescu-Ghica, a third-year political science and economics student, told the group that he is undocumented and hasn’t received much help from the government outside of attending a public university.
After the meeting, he said the discussion got him “riled up” because “illegal” is an emotionally charged word, but he was glad that he attended the meeting.
“I appreciated the fact that the meeting was opened up to us and that I got to speak my mind,” Stoicescu-Ghica said. “A lot of times, (people) get exposed to the issue through three-minute sound bites.”
Seth Ronquillo, a fourth-year film and linguistics student and a member of Improving Dreams, Equality, Access, and Success, a group that advocates for undocumented individuals, also told members of Bruin Republicans that he is an undocumented student and talked about his personal experience at the meeting. Ronquillo said he did not attend the meeting on behalf of IDEAS.
“I don’t think I changed anybody’s mind,” he said. “But I’m glad I got to express my point of view.”