Writing to Congress to protect Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students was at the heart of the You’ve Got a Friend in Me Undocumented Resource Fair in the Campus Center Plaza Oct. 16 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
As part of the Undocumented Student Week of Action at Contra Costa College, this fair was designed to encourage students to sign postcards in support of the DACA program. The gathering also served as an opportunity to meet with representatives of organizations that provide legal aid and rights education to undocumented communities.
Though the event on campus was organized by Student Life, sending postcards is part of a statewide initiative at community colleges, Student Life Coordinator Joel Nickelson-Shanks said.
The social media hashtags #CCCforDACA and #UndocumentedStudentActionWeek were listed to promote the campaign. District 11 Rep. Mark DeSaulnier’s Instagram and Twitter account handles were shown so constituents can follow their representative.
Tickets were given after signing the postcards for a free food item from a Curbside Kitchen food truck parked in the plaza.
“I’m glad this event is happening because it makes undocumented students not feel so alone,” Student Life intern Kathleen Bonilla said.
Organizations dedicated to helping the undocumented community were invited to set up tables at the fair alongside the postcard station in order to bolster their message and services.
One of the groups invited was Stand Together Contra Costa, a new program started by a coalition of partners in the East Bay. The group manages a rapid response hotline for those being detained or deported from their home, at work, or at school.
Program-trained legal observers can be sent to monitor Federal Immigration and Customs (ICE) agent’s interactions and activities. Stand Together Contra Costa leader Yaquelin Valencia said it’s important to help those who are undocumented to know their rights and to correct misconceptions — such as knowing there is a difference between the rights of someone in their home versus a someone in a vehicle.
The International Institute of the Bay, the largest non-profit legal provider in Northern California, reached out to students who attended the event.
“We’ve been looking to branch out into deportation defense since the start of the Trump administration,” staff attorney Sara MacPherson said.
She wants students who are in need of legal counsel to know that high-quality, free services are available to them.
Working to resettle refugees is the primary focus of the International Rescue Committee located in Oakland. Grecia Sandoval, an immigration caseworker, told students about free citizen workshops offered once a month and immigration open hours once a week for $30.