Even being a legal citizen, throughout Jessica Huerta’s education she equally felt the challenges and insecurities of colored people. Despite the obstacles of language barriers and judgments, she remained eager to complete her path and successfully found resources to do so.
After transferring from PCC and attending the University of California, Irvine (UCI), she graduated with a degree in sociology and psychology. She now works for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) as a communication education coordinator.
“For me personally, it’s more than just work,” Huerta said. “I really am passionate about it, because of how so many people have been treated.”
Fear, worry and limitations are only some of the many emotions that DREAMers face daily. These feelings may stem from fear of raids in the DACA community, limitations from parents or being the new generation and generally where our political climate currently stands, plus more. To help cope with these emotions, PCC showed their support by raising awareness and providing engaging workshops every day during Undocumented Student Action week.
Advocates, staff and faculty came together each day as a guest speaker and a helping hand to bring awareness to the resources undocumented students can seek.
“Spearheading the first Undocumented Student Action Week was a dream come true that I hope will serve as the foundation for what we can develop to support our undocumented students in the near future,” Student Equity advisor Luis Cervantes said.
On Monday afternoon, students had the opportunity to anonymously self-disclose their immigration stories. This day included support from counselor Brian Pangan from PCC’s Community Education Center on Foothill Boulevard and Dr. Raquel-Torres Retana from PCC’s Rosemead campus. The result was extremely positive and a “reminder of solidarity” for future undocumented-related programs.
PCC’s Student Equity Center and Law Offices of Carl Shusterman collaborated to host free legal immigration screenings on Tuesday. Senior Counsel Angeline Chen visited the campus to administer immigration law consultations through one-on-one appointments. Chen has worked and continues to work closely with PCC, providing pro-bono support services for students.
“We thank Angeline and her firm for her powerful display of solidarity and for sharing her expertise with our students who have been able to get answers to urgent and costly immigration legal fees on a case-by-case basis, throughout the years,” said Cervantes.
Wednesday included PCC’s Assistant Director Ernesto Nery and Financial Aid Director Manuel Cerda assisting students with California Dream Act applications. Students had the opportunity to ask questions and get a better understanding of their financial aid eligibility.
As for Thursday, guest speaker Huerta and her colleague Soila Rodriguez from CHIRLA came to bring awareness on illegal services and policy updates within the new Trump administration.
“We’re educating as many people as we can — all the communities that we serve, to let them know what the census means, why it’s important for them to fill it out and why they shouldn’t be afraid to fill it out,” Rodriguez said.
CHIRLA’s campaign “Contamos Contigo” a.k.a. “We Count On You” advocates people to pledge to fill out a census card within the next year, while they make sure it’s accessible to fill out and bring awareness to the census no longer containing a citizenship question. Their campaign “Rise Up For DACA” informs the community about DACA and Supreme Court hearings and encourages recipients to renew their DACA.
“As a college student, you’re focused on trying to finish your schooling,” Rodriguez said. “There’s always resources, you shouldn’t feel like just because DACA ends or because you don’t have a work permit that you can’t, you know, envision or accomplish your dreams.”
She went on to remind that a lot of organizations and people are fighting for immigration reforms that are beneficial to students.
To conclude the week, a mixer was held on Friday for the United Without Boundaries (UWB) student leaders, with Director of Student Equity, Dr. Michaela Mares Tamayo and Vice President of Student Services, Dr. Cynthia Olivo. Laughs and personal connections were shared over pizza and refreshments. And a big takeaway from the discussions was the necessity of a safe space these students feel they need.
“Thank you to all who attended our event and those who showed solidarity in our efforts, even more so, to our students who shared personal stories of resilience to overcome challenges and achieve more success,” Cervantes said. “Onward we go!”