California State University, Dominguez Hills’ (CSUDH) Toro Dreamers Success Center (TDSC) officially opened its doors Jan. 25 with a “meet-and-greet” packed full of faculty, staff, and students there to learn about the “safe space” and the services the center offers undocumented students.
Planning for a center that supports and advocates for all of the university’s undocumented students began over a year ago. According to Paz Oliverez, director of the university’s Educational Opportunity Program, the decision to create a center is part of a larger goal, to provide services and resources for all the campus’s diverse students.
“The center really demonstrates Cal State Dominguez Hills’ support for undocumented students on this campus. This university doesn’t just talk the talk, it walks the walk,” said Oliverez, who asked the audience to educated the campus community about the center. “The university is committing significant resources at a very critical time, not only for undocumented students, but all students with diverse backgrounds.”
Located in the Multicultural Affairs office on the first floor of the Loker Student Union, the Dreamers Center provides a welcoming space where Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students can get access to a range of on- and off-campus resources and assistance understanding their rights, as well as help navigating college life. Faculty and staff can also learn how to receive training to become Student Allies.
The center will also work in partnership with the CSUDH-based Undocumented Student Ally Coalition, and Espíritu de Nuestro Futuro (ENF), the like-minded organizations that initiated the development of the center, to host workshops and other events aimed to educate and raise awareness about DACA and the California DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act.
During the meet-and-greet, the center’s staff, DACA students, and other speakers shared their experiences as undocumented residents and students. The also talked about the pertinence and urgency of opening the TDSC, which took place the same day U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order to begin constructing a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border
“I am also an undocumented DACA recipient. I grew up in Lynnwood and was raised there. It wasn’t until my college years I realized what it meant to be undocumented,” said Daniel Caballero, interim coordinator of the TDSC. “[After the signing of the executive order] feelings of anxiety and fear came in. Then what came to mind was what students a Cal State Dominguez Hills, and students across the country, must be feeling. So I wasn’t just excited to learn I got this position, I also felt a strong commitment and determination to be here to advocate and support our students.”
The Toro Dreamers Success Center, in partnership with the Mexican Consulate of Los Angeles, hosted a “DACA, Executive Orders, and Updates” forum Jan. 26 to provide information about the potential future status of DACA students. The consulate’s foreign service officer, Felipe Carrera-Aguayo, discussed the role and services of the consulate, while Attorney Laura E. Urias, who has worked on DACA and pending immigration cases, provided information and practical advice about the rights of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. She also fielded questions from the standing-room-only audience about the process of becoming legal residents, and concerns about family members.