Global Education

OU stands with immigrants, collaborates to address needs of undocumented students

If it wasn’t clear before, it is now: Oglethorpe University supports immigrants and undocumented students.

OU students, faculty and staff participated in the “I Stand with Immigrants” Day events Nov. 2, which followed the Oct. 28 “Coalition and Community Building: Supporting Georgia’s Undocumented Students in Higher Education” conference hosted by OU and sponsored by the Atlanta Global Research & Education Collaborative (AGREC).

“For years, Oglethorpe has ensured access to high-quality, post-secondary education for Georgia students without access to in-state tuition and locked out from enrolling at several public institutions,” said Marisa Atencio, assistant dean and director of Global Education at Oglethorpe. “We hope this event is the first of many opportunities to build coalitions, advocate for better state policies and develop solutions to support undocumented students in Georgia.”

A student signs a poster in support of immigrants at the "I Stand with Immigrants" Day of Action event

A student signs a poster in support of immigrants at the “I Stand with Immigrants” Day of Action event

The Day of Action was one of nearly 100 held at colleges and universities across the country. This year, campus and community Day of Action events were held one week prior to the midterm elections to raise awareness for the Dreamer community and encourage students and attendees to vote for representatives that will protect immigrants.

In early October, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on the State of Texas v. United States case, deeming the DACA policy unlawful. Without urgent action from Congress in the upcoming lame duck session, nearly 700,000 DACA recipients are at risk of losing their work authorization, protections from deportation, and having their lives thrown into chaos.

The “I Am An Immigrant” Movement and “I Stand With Immigrants” Initiative bring together artists, advocates, elected officials, organizations and individuals in celebrating the diverse heritage of our nation’s social fabric. The movement encourages everyone to explore their individual heritage and recognize their distinct and shared experiences.

The Nov. 2 event represents the Oglethorpe community’s strong support for Dreamers on campus and across the country, as well as the broader immigrant community. It was also an urgent call for Congress to protect Dreamers, their families, and their communities.

Artist and activist Yehimi Cambrón speaks at the 2022 Communities and Coalitions Conference at Oglethorpe University

Artist and activist Yehimi Cambrón

The Day of Action closely followed the Coalition and Community Building conference at Oglethorpe Oct. 28 featuring such immigration experts and advocates as attorney Charles Kuck of Kuck/Baxter Immigration, Hyein Lee of TheDream.US, Emiko Soltis of Freedom University, and artist/activist Yehimi Cambrón.

“I was thrilled to see so many community leaders, higher education faculty and staff, high school counselors, non-profits, and advocacy organizations from all over the state attend last Friday to share their expertise and resources,” said Peter Dye, Assistant Director of Community and Global Engagement. “Everyone who came clearly wanted to learn how to better support undocumented students. Conversations around the state of immigration policy are often bleak, but the undocumented students, leaders, and change-makers who presented at the conference delivered both inspiration and hope.”

Partners who collaborated on the day-long conference included Georgia State University’s Intensive English Program, Emory University’s Laney Graduate School, the Latino Community Fund – GA, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta, Freedom University, TheDream.US, Achieve Atlanta, GALEO, Atlanta Public Schools, the Latin American Association, U-Lead Athens, Migrant Equity Southeast, and Georgia State University’s Center for Urban Language Teaching & Research.

“Support from organizations like the Atlanta Global Research and Education Collaborative (AGREC) is critical to advance collaborative research and initiatives centered on global issues highlighted in the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals,” Atencio said. “Friday’s conference showed us there are many local partners in K-12, local government and higher education as well as community-based organizations in the state and nationally who, like Oglethorpe, are seeking to better serve undocumented students. Speakers Friday provided immigration and policy context and reinforced that access to education is a human right that brings real economic benefits to individuals and to the state of Georgia.”


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