“I’m undocumented, unafraid and unapologetic!” is the phrase students scream while standing on the steps of the C building during the Coming Out of the Shadows event when they join the club United Without Boundaries.
United Without Boundaries has been around for about six years. It was formed by both undocumented students and allies. The club’s goal is to provide services and assistance to all undocumented/AB 540 students as well as to ensure the campus is meeting undocumented students’ needs.
“It’s both an activist club and a resource club,” said club advisor Javier Carbajal.
According to Carbajal, there is an estimated 800 undocumented students at PCC, but not all of them are comfortable with revealing their immigration status. Undocumented students will often feel scared and embarrassed of their status and are hesitant to seek help.
“I would like to tell them that they shouldn’t be afraid, they are human beings they shouldn’t feel that because they’re called aliens that they’re not human beings,” Maria Mendoza, president of the club, said. “I know it can be hard to ask for help but we are here for them, we are here to help them with any information we have whether it’s financial help or emotional help.”
Club assistant David Reyes decided to become a board member because he wanted to help other undocumented students not feel scared and try to help them feel comfortable on campus.
“I remember my first year here I was pretty much scared because a lot of things were changing including new laws and I felt scared,” said Reyes.
The very first thing that is addressed in the club is that there is absolutely nothing wrong with an undocumented student. There is no need to be afraid. There is now enough help on campus for undocumented students to be able to get out of the shadows and feel comfortable with who they are.
“A lot of the times undocumented students, when they are afraid it’s because they think they did something wrong,” Carbajal said. “The very first meeting is, there is nothing wrong with you, you did nothing wrong, this is what it is.”
In United Without Boundaries, students are able to share their stories, their struggles and their successes. The club also provides students with all the information about the different types of help available for them.
Some of the policies and forms that are now available for undocumented students are the AB 540, which allows them to pay $46 per unit instead of $280 dollars a unit, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the California Dream Act.
DACA is an American immigration policy that allows certain undocumented students to receive a renewable two-year work permit and exemption from deportation.
The California Dream Act consists of two Assembly bills, AB 130 and AB 131. Together these bills allow undocumented students to apply for and receive private scholarships and state financial aid as well as university grants and community college fee waivers.
PCC also has what is called the Safe Zone Coalition, which is a network of college faculty and staff trained to support the unique issues faced by not only undocumented students but also members of the LGBTQ community.
The club United Without Boundaries also hosts a variety of activities with the goal of building a community and attracting students to participate.
“We have Monsters Bash, which is a fun activity, we have Dia De Los Muertos which is also a fun activity, people can actually interact,” said Carbajal.
The club also hosts transfer workshops specifically regarding undocumented students, financial aid workshops specifically about dreamers, DACA workshops, and tours to schools that have dream centers.
“This is our way of encouraging PCC to recognize those schools that actually have put money into a dream center so we only go to schools that have dream centers,” said Carbajal.
Regardless of the existing policies, there is still much more that needs to be done.
“There is enough resources to say that there is something, but there is no where near enough,” Carbajal said. “We need a dream center, we are still working on that. We need a counselor dedicated for undocumented students and we need all of the faculty and all of the staff to be aware of the needs.”
The club United Without boundaries meets every Tuesday at 12 p.m. in the C building, room 327.
For those who would like to stay informed of the club’s upcoming events, workshops and campus tours, please follow the club’s Facebook page P.C.C United Without Boundaries.