‘Keeping the Dream Alive’ conference provides support for immigrant students

Students with mixed immigration statuses given access to support and information


Will Coburn - The State Hornet

Andrew Moriarty from fwd.us delivers a legislative update on the final day of the Keeping the Dream Alive conference in the University Union Ballroom. The Legislative update covered the challenges to DACA, what attempts at legislation have been, upcoming court cases and what the midterm elections mean for DACA recipients.

Sacramento State’s Dreamer Resource Center hosted the third annual “Keeping the Dream Alive” conference for students with mixed immigration status backgrounds and educators in the Union Ballroom this week.

The conference started three years ago as a summit to help immigrant students at Sac State connect with resources and to create a community for those students with mixed immigration status backgrounds, according to conference coordinator Rossmeri Ramirez.

Ramirez said the event has since grown to include advice for educators and resource professionals for students and has participants coming from multiple states.

There were about 300 attendees each day of the conference and more than 100 organizations in attendance, according to Ramirez.

The conference had 25 different workshops for attendees with a range of subjects, including what resources are available to immigrant students and how to establish resources for them on their own campus.

The three-day conference started with a reception Sunday afternoon, followed by two days of speakers, panels and workshops.

Israel Flores, a public relations major at Sac State, works for the Dreamer Resource Center. Flores said the purpose of the conference is to show how beneficial to society “Dreamers” are and to help them understand what they need to do to receive higher education.

“We want ‘Dreamers’ to know that they should pursue a higher education because it is important,” Flores said.

Flores said there were some problems caused by the two-week school closure pushing everything back, and that it took a lot of work getting things back on track.

“Overall, I think it’s been going pretty good,” Flores said. “I think everyone has been enjoying themselves, they’ve been getting a lot of information, they’ve been getting policy briefings and perspectives. That’s something I really like about this conference, it’s not just one person giving you information, you have experts on different issues showing how they see things going on.”

Flores said that the event made him reflect on his own experience of finding support.

“It makes me feel proud of myself because I myself am a ‘Dreamer,’ ” Flores said. “One of the first things that happened when I came to Sac State was that someone pointed out the Dreamer Resource Center, and they were really helpful and they told me all about the resources here on campus.”

Jesus Zavala, a business administration major from College of the Desert in Palm Desert, California, was one of the people at the conference working on establishing resources at their campus.

“We’re trying to bring awareness to our community which has maybe 40 undocumented students, and just be allies to them,” Zavala said. “We’re currently getting our dream center over there, so we’re just here trying to get as much information as we can so we can provide for our students at College of [the] Desert.”

Andrew Moriarty, deputy director of federal policy for FWD.us, provided a national policy briefing explaining the current state of U.S. immigration law and how an incoming Democratic majority in the house could shape it in the coming year.

According to Moriarty, a Fox News poll found that 83% of Americans believe “Dreamers” should be allowed to live in the United States.

Moriarty called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), “a blueprint for a working immigration system,” and said there were several attempts in the last two years at immigration reform legislation. However, attempts at bipartisan compromise and more restrictive immigration reform failed to pass.

Moriarty said “Dreamers” themselves are of huge importance when he’s pushing legislation.

“Taking the data and facts and the lived experiences, and connecting those two together, ‘Dreamers’ are going to tell you the best [of] what success the DACA program can have,” Moriarty said.

Lorena Rosas, a “Dreamer” who graduated in 2017 from California State University, San Bernardino, said specified resources for immigrant students were different when she started going to school.