Campus News

Wisconsin Dreamer calls for support, education following DACA decision

Given the political climate of the past year, as well as what UW-Madison senior Selina Armenta called UW-Madison’s “lack of action” in helping Madison’s undocumented population, Armenta co-founded a student organization, Dreamers of UW-Madison, last year.

Image By: Betsy Osterberger

Selina Armenta, a UW-Madison senior, was just three years old when she traveled from Mexico to the U.S. with family friends over 18 years ago.

After President Donald Trump’s announcement last week to repeal the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, enacted under the Obama Administration to block the deportation of young people who immigrated to the United States without proper documentation as children, Armenta is worried not only for her future, but also for her family.

Given the political climate of the past year, as well as what Armenta called UW-Madison’s “lack of action” in helping Madison’s undocumented population, Armenta co-founded a student organization, Dreamers of UW-Madison, last year. The organization aims to provide support for the self-described dreamers who “are dreaming for a better future and for better opportunities here in the U.S.”

“We thought there was a need for some sort of support group or some place to go for resources on our campus and in Madison, and there wasn’t a whole lot being done by the university itself,” Armenta said. “[UW-Madison was] very careful about what they said and could and couldn’t do. We decided to take the initiative and bring the organization to campus.”

Aside from providing emotional support and guidance to undocumented immigrants, Armenta’s organization, which was founded last year, also encourages people to talk to their congressmen and legislators to pass the DREAM Act, which has already received support from representatives such as U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis.

Armenta—who has lived in Madison ever since traveling to the U.S. to meet her still-undocumented parents who arrived here a year before her—was not surprised when she heard the president’s decision to repeal the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

But she says the lack of clarity about the program’s fate has complicated things for her and her family, even as Congress tries to search for a solution.

“I’m worried for my future because I intended to go to law school after graduating UW-Madison. Now, I’m not sure how soon that will be,” Armenta, a UW-Madison senior majoring in legal studies, said. “I’m worried for my family more than anything because, when you apply for the program, you release a lot of personal information and a lot of your family’s information.”

Although Armenta is encouraged by the work of her club and her support group, she said many hold misconceptions of the program. She said one major misconception is that DACA is automatically given to undocumented immigrants.

There is an “extensive” application process to qualify for DACA, she said. Hopeful applicants must confirm their identity, time spent in the U.S. and that they arrived in the country before DACA was passed in 2012. Moreover, those who have committed a felony or have more than three misdemeanors will not qualify. Renewal of the program—required every two years—costs $495, Armenta said.

“It is not guaranteed that you’ll receive [access to the program],” Armenta said. “The repeal is affecting families, students and parents. Some recipients have kids and entire families started here. I just want people to look more into it and educate themselves before making assumptions.”

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