Underground Undergrads was a featured event at Remy's Art Gallery on August 10, 2008.
Asian Americans Rally in Support of Undocumented Students By: AsianWeek Staff, Aug 18, 2008 A standing-room only crowd filled Remy’s Place on Temple Art Gallery on August 10 for a special book party in conjunction with the Smithsonian/University of Hawai‘i exhibition, “Singglalot: The Ties That Bind,” on the history of the Filipino immigration to the U.S. that in closes in October. The book, Underground Undergrads: UCLA Undocumented Students Speak Out, profiles eight UCLA students, half of whom are Asian American, who described the plight of undocumented college students brought to the U.S. as children and the struggle to complete their college degrees.
These students are ineligible to legally work or obtain a driver’s license and are excluded from many other rights afforded to their classmates. They are considered “out-of-status” and disqualified from obtaining federal financial aid. They struggle to stay in school by taking jobs that pay them “under the table,” living with family far from campus and commuting long distances on public transportation and withdrawing when funds are low.
The Honorable Mike Eng (49th Assembly District) opened the program by commending Remy’s founder Joselyn Geaga-Rosenthal and UCLA Labor Center Director Kent Wong for co-sponsoring the event to break the Asian American community’s silence about undocumented students and family. He also applauded the bravery of the UCLA students who are lobbying the California and federal Dream Acts that would respectively provide government financial aid and a path to citizenship.
Four of those students, some recent graduates (Filipino, Vietnamese, and South Asian) told their personal stories to the rapt audience. Tam Tran spoke of her parents’ journey from Vietnam as boat people to Germany, where she and her brother were born. Her family moved to the U.S. but because her father lost his work permit, the government sought to deport her family. Because Germany does not grant citizenship at birth, Tam and her brother are state-less, neither citizens of the U.S., nor Germany nor Vietnam, a country she has never visited. She is in a permanent state of limbo, unable to legally claim any country as her own. Tam told the audience, “Forty percent of undocumented students at UC campuses are Asian. But you would never know it because of the stigma about something which is not our fault.” Angelo Mathay’s mother brought him to the U.S. from the Philippines at age six, presumably for a vacation. He was surprised to learn that she didn’t intend to return in order to escape the tsismis (gossip) that resulted from Angelo’s out-of-wedlock birth. Years later, Angelo was unable to return to the Philippines even for his father’s funeral because the U.S. would not re-admitted him. He told the audience, “Filipinos believe tago ng tago (hide and hide) our status, but we have to come out of the shadows if we want to change immigration policy.” Zeenat Bhamani, a Pakistani undergraduate, spoke of her family and the larger South Asian community’s feelings of shame about being undocumented. She said, “Especially in a post-9/11 world, we have to claim our full identities if we want equ
al treatment and an end to discrimination.”
Stephanie Solis did not learn she was undocumented until she was 18 when she announced to her parents that it was time to apply for a driver’s license, passport and college. They finally disclosed to her that, because of her status, she was not entitled to many of these rights. She admitted, “Yes, it is scary to stand at press conferences, or hearings, or speaking engagements and be identified as undocumented, but it would be much more scary if we didn’t speak out.”
Underground undergrads emerge from the shadows Published: August 15, 2008 Author: Pasckie PascuaTotal
LOS ANGELES — “I don’t feel very Filipino. I’m told I am not American, but the only thing that rings true to me is the English language.” Childish grins intermittently escape from Stephanie Solis’ waif-like face like tiny arrows that cut through the concrete façade of America’s heart. “I was born in the Philippines and arrived in the United States when I was three years old. .....
Events: 6/23/09 DREAM Act 2009 Graduations 8/13/09 Tour D'Dreams: Biking from UCLA to UCBerkeley - The Kick Off!
More information about organizing in LA contact DREAMTeamLA@dreamactivist.org
Underground Undergrads: The Journey is a blog. But it's not just a blog. It's a collection of chronicles, a series of rants, an analysis of our culture and our time in history, and a source of information for Dream Act advocates. Our blog was born as a continuation of a student project that led to a book titled Underground Undergrads: UCLA Undocumented Students Speak Out, which was published by the UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education. We are just getting started on this blogging business, so feel free to send us comments and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
The views expressed on this website are solely representative of each post's author. Underground Undergrads: The Journey is an independent project of its editorial team, and it does not receive financial support from any of the organizations or individuals mentioned in this website.