Tuesday, May 26

Program uses crowdfunding to support undocumented students

The Undergraduate Students Association Council’s General Representative 1 Nicole Corona Diaz helped launch the #UndocuBruins campaign to fundraise $10,000 to go toward grants for undocumented students. (Eda Gokcebay/Daily Bruin)

Johanna Apodaca could not afford to apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status which would have allowed her to work and raise money to help her pay for college.

But Apodaca, a first-year Chicana/o studies and geography student, hopes other campus resources will help alleviate her financial concerns because she is not eligible for federal financial aid.

#UndocuBruins, a program created by the undergraduate student government’s General Representative 1 and the Undocumented Student Program, aims to help undocumented UCLA students like Apodaca. The program’s current goal is to fundraise $10,000 on the crowdfunding platform UCLA Spark by Dec. 5, said Nicole Corona Diaz, USAC General Representative 1 and second-year political science student.

UCLA spokesperson Ricardo Vazquez said the Undocumented Student Program will receive the funds once the crowdfunding campaign closes. He added the program is still finalizing the number and amount of scholarships it will award.

In September, President Donald Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which deferred deportation for undocumented individuals brought to the United States as children. The program has also helped thousands of undocumented individuals procure the documentation necessary to get jobs, open bank accounts and obtain driver’s licenses in certain states.

Corona Diaz, who is an undocumented student, said the termination of DACA means many undocumented students will lose the ability to be lawfully employed because they will no longer have access to Social Security numbers.

“You can imagine it’s that much harder to finance higher education if you can’t even work,” Corona Diaz said.

She added undocumented students face obstacles to financing higher education also because they cannot apply for scholarships that require U.S. citizenship.

“That already leaves the undocumented community at a disadvantage because it’s harder to find (scholarships) and the ones that are at their disposal are extremely competitive,” Corona Diaz said.

Undocumented students are also not eligible for federal financial aid, a program which bars them from applying for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, according to the FAFSA website.

Nelson Chavez, a General Representative 1 staff member and fourth-year communication student, said he thinks terminating DACA marginalizes the undocumented community.

“I view it as one of the many efforts that the oppressors ruling this country have sustained to disenfranchise an entire population of hard-working, tax-paying, law-abiding peoples who, for the most part, seek legal documentation,” Chavez said.

Corona Diaz said the campaign will provide the extra financial support that is necessary to help undocumented students continue their studies. She added her office plans to expand the campaign next year if it succeeds in reaching the $10,000 goal.

“(The campaign) goal isn’t that big because we wanted to see how much we could fundraise, so we started off small at $10,000, which is not as large as other campaigns,” Corona Diaz said.

Apodaca said she thinks the crowdfunding campaign brings attention to the financial challenges many undocumented students experience.

“The undocumented community found ways to survive before DACA, so now that the landmark program that was intended to ease the struggles of undocumented people has officially been terminated, we just have to keep fighting,” she said.

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