News Local/State

Campus Groups Rally In Support Of DACA Students

Guest speakers and supporters at the I-CAUSE rally at the U of I Urbana campus

Guest speakers and supporters at Friday's I-CAUSE rally on the U of I Urbana campus quad. Jeff Bossert/Illinois Public Media

University of Illinois students living in the US without legal authorization talked about how their status keeps them from reaching their full potential at a campus rally Friday. I-CAUSE, or the Illinois Coalition Assisting Undocumented Students' Education, held the second annual "Coming Out of the Shadows" event on the U of I campus.

The group also provides training to other students and faculty on how to become advocates.

One of those speaking at the rally was Bruna "Mel" Cardoso – a graduate student from Brazil. She says her parents were university professors back home, but lost to their positions, and came to the U.S. for financial reasons. 

Cardoso says that now, they’re working low-wage jobs, and seeing their talents go to waste.

“This single piece of paper dictates who is good enough, and who deserves simple human rights," he said. "This makes me feel not only inferior not only in my own skin, but it breaks my heart for my mom and dad, who have sacrificed everything for me to be here today.”

U of I Senior Jaime Nolasco, a native of Mexico, led Friday’s rally. He says the ally training events provide updates on state and federal legislation that seeks changes in areas like access to education.

"Because often times undocumented students have difficulty applying for the in-state tuition," he said. "There are many loopholes that need to be closed, and these trainings help with that.”

U of I Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Renee Romano says administrators are tracking legislation like Illinois' ACCESS bill, which would provide funding to those who are living in the country illegally.

Nolasco says the U of I continues to provide protections for such students. The U of I does not serve as a sanctuary campus, but Nolasco says that title is more symbolic than anything else.

"I fully believe the University of Illinois system is making an effort to protect undocumented students," he said. 

Friday’s rally was held in front of about 50 students on the U of I campus quad.