UCSB students demand more resources for illegal immigrants

A student group at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) staged a walkout Monday to demand immigration reform and various resources for illegal immigrant students.

The March 5 event marked the deadline that President Trump had established for phasing out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and “Improving Dreams, Equality, Access, and Success” (IDEAS), an undocumented student group, advertised the walkout with a poster demanding legalization, sanctuary, and education “for ALL!”

The self-proclaimed “safe-space” says it provides “financial, academic, and emotional support” to “undocumented students” but welcomes students even if they are “not undocumented.” 

According to the Department of Education, “undocumented” students, including those with DACA status, are ineligible for federal financial aid.

[RELATED: New scholarship to hand out $20M to DACA students]

The Daily Nexus reports that roughly 200 students walked out of class at noon and marched from Storke Tower to Cheadle Hall, which contains the offices of the UCSB chancellor.

During the march, organizers circulated a petition listing demands that IDEAS had previously presented to the UCSB administration, including “a permanent, expanded space for undocumented students, an attorney on campus that takes care of undocumented students’ immigrant cases, and a campus wide employment program that does not require a social security number.”

“We want an attorney because of the expected growing need of immigration cases due to expirations of DACA, the abundant ICE raids all across CA and the country, and the unexpectedness of immigration legislation and policies under the current president,” explained a student identified only as “Sam” who co-chairs the IDEAS group, adding that the club also wants a center on campus “to make sure that undocumented students have a space on campus where they can befriend, network, support, and feel safe.”

[RELATED: UCLA hosts ‘Undocumented Unafraid’ forum for DACA supporters]

“Ain’t no power like the power of the people ‘cause the power of the people don’t stop. Say what?” protesters shouted during the walkout. The signs that dotted the column included numerous expletives, in English and in Spanish, directed at “ICE,” “La Migra,” and “tu muro.” Others read “not my president,” “migration is a human right,” and “borders are a lie.”

When students arrived at the plaza in front of Cheadle Hall, they began chanting “Let us in,” even though a supportive administrator had previously asked them to refrain from entering the building due to safety concerns.

Associate Director of the Office of Student Life Danielle Quinones told the Daily Nexus that because of the “compact” hallways in Cheadle hall, she had asked that the students refrain from entering the building for the “safety of the participants.”

In spite of her request, students eventually gained access and lined both sides of the corridors, shouting chants through megaphones including “Here to stay!”

Quinones responded to the development positively, saying she was “proud to hear their voices echo throughout the building,” and that she was “very proud of our students and community today.”

After exiting the building, the students formed a large circle in front of the doors. Some participants led the group in chants while others gave performances. One student, Gabriel X, delivered a Spanish rap about crossing the border. 

When the gathering began to dissolve, particularly dedicated individuals stayed behind, shouting at bystanders with megaphones.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @SFarkas48