The Everywhere Project
March 2, 2017
Santa Clara has undocumented students. How many doesn’t matter or, at least, it shouldn’t matter. When we make this statement, we make it not to shock or confuse or spark anger. We say it because it’s a fact. And it is this fact that needs to be acknowledged and given the space to be explored.
The Bay Area is rich in resources, thought and immigrants. As a result, Santa Clara County and California as a whole tend to be immigrant friendly.
The reason cities like San Francisco declare themselves sanctuary cities and why Governor Jerry Brown (a Santa Clara alumnus) stands by immigrants is because they’re aware of how immigrants support California.
According to a 2016 report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, immigrants contribute an estimated amount of $11.64 billion in state and local taxes. So yes, they do pay taxes. You don’t actually need a social security number to do that.
Often, when either side of the party line passionately argues about the “criminals” crossing the border, they forget they’re talking about real people. Perhaps, this way of talking about “illegal aliens” is purposeful. It’s easier to hate someone once you’ve dehumanized them.
The subsect of immigrants that arguably get the most leeway when it comes to immigration policies are DREAMers, people who as young children were brought over to America. The lack of inherent consent in their situation was seen as a reason under the Obama administration to create Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). DACA has benefited many immigrant youth and has given them the chance to strive for higher education.
Let’s not forget, however, that there were and will continue to be undocumented students across college campuses regardless of whether or not DACA is repealed.
Still, DACA gave those who qualified (and not everyone did) a little room to breathe. It created more opportunities to pay for and apply to college, as well as getting internships later. DACA makes giving back to America a safer possibility.
Even though undocumented college students can feel more at ease with DACA, the reality of being marked as “illegal” takes a toll on the daily lives of immigrants. Exact numbers are difficult to obtain, but a majority of undocumented students suffer from anxiety and depression because of their legal status.
The fear of deportation, of coming home to find your family is gone or anger at not being able to stand up for yourself eventually gets under your skin. Not being affected is impossible when everywhere you turn there’s someone calling you worthless and a burden and a criminal.
On this campus, we value the core Jesuit beliefs of community, diversity and serving others. President Father Engh has come out in support of Santa Clara’s immigrant community and just last fall the Undocumented Students and Allies Association (USAA) held a solidarity walk-out. However, there are people on this campus who do not embrace our campus diversity and even refuse to listen to students’ stories.
There is no better example of this than the mock border wall SCCAP puts up every year. Setting aside the irony of Trump’s proposed wall, our wall is supposed to serve as an educational tool. Yet, it is consistently vandalized. These incidents may not be of concern to most students, but those who are directly affected feel isolated, vulnerable and fearful. Always, always fearful.
This is why the Undocumented Students and Allies Association (in conjunction with The Santa Clara) want to create a space where the experiences of undocumented students and alumni can be heard.
Breaching the gap between communities has always been part of storytelling and the American experience so we are excited to announce this project as a way to heal the scars of our campus.
The Everywhere Project aims to empower undocumented immigrants because their experiences are often silenced due to the fear of speaking out. We want to combat the feelings of isolation, shame and vulnerability associated with being immigrants, as well as the public misconceptions about immigration that lead to ignorance.
This is not about politicizing or policing the experiences of real human beings. Rather, this project is about putting aside laws and policies to allow people to share their stories. As citizens of the world, it is our responsibility to empathize and listen to one another. Remember, respect is not the same thing as acceptance.
Starting in spring quarter, we are inviting allies and members of the undocumented community to submit their stories. Whether you currently are or previously were undocumented or have friends and family who are undocumented, your story deserves to be heard. We acknowledge the risk that comes with sharing, so we are committed to protecting the privacy of our submitters.
People who submit will be a part of the editing process and have final say over their pieces, but no one will necessarily need to know the identity of the author. We do not want fear of discovery or fear of judgement to be a deterrent. This should be a positive and rewarding experience for those who feel they are able and willing to share a personal part of themselves.
If you’re interested, go to thesantaclara.org and check out our Opinion section for more information on The Everywhere Project. Any submissions or questions should be directed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Everywhere Project aims to give voice to the undocumented community of Santa Clara. Submissions will be accepted starting in spring.