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Identity, Social Activism, and the Pursuit of Higher Education

The Journey Stories of Undocumented and Unafraid Community Activists


Susana M. Muñoz

The topic of immigration has become increasingly volatile in U.S. society, and undocumented college students play a central role in mobilizing and politicizing a critical mass of activists to push forth a pro-immigration agenda, in particular the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. The DREAM Act is the only federal legislation that would grant conditional citizenship and some financial aid assistance to undocumented students who have completed two years of college or enlist in military service. Since the DREAM Act failed to pass, undocumented students have moved from peaceful marches to acts of civil disobedience, seeking to disrupt the public discourse that positions undocumented students as living in the shadows of our system. Undocumented college students have created public forums in which they «come out» from these invisible images and pronounce themselves as «undocumented and unafraid».
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Chapter Three

College Access and College “Choice”


College Access and Experiences in Higher Education for Undocumented Students … “Why did they recruit us, if they aren’t going to support us?”

“Incredible,” I murmur as I finish reading an email from a concerned community advisor from a youth organization in the Milwaukee area. The email detailed an encounter with a young woman who confided in her that her high school counselor indicated that college was not an option for this student because of her legal status. I roll my eyes and shake my head. “I can’t believe that high school counselors are STILL telling undocumented youth that they can’t go to college,” I state aloud. My mind races and I search for the words to reply to the advisor who searched “undocumented students and the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee,” and happened to find my contact information. This counselor profusely apologized for contacting me, and yet I am grateful that she did so. My response email thanked her for writing to me and for taking the step to assist this student as she ponders her college choices. Then in block letters I state, COLLEGE IS AN OPTION FOR UNDOCUMENTED STUDENTS. I had to proclaim this loud and clear. My next email was directed at the Director of Admissions, who I had previously met in a committee meeting. I forwarded this email to him with a lengthy message asking him, How can we be more proactive about educating high schools about working with undocumented students, and what...

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