Student Newsroom

Community gathers to celebrate ‘I Stand With Immigrants’ Day of Action


The U of I dance group Ballet Folklorico Mitotiani performed at the "I Stand With Immigrants" celebration at the University YMCA on Oct. 25. Ballet Folklorico is a traditional Mexican folk dance. Stephanie Mosqueda/Illinois Student Newsroom

Around 80 people met at the University YMCA in Champaign to celebrate "I Stand with Immigrants" Day of Action on Oct. 25.

The event was hosted by the Illinois Coalition of Undocumented Students for Education, or I-CAUSE. The student organization’s mission is to create an alliance of undocumented students to provide representation and resources.

"I Stand With Immigrants" Day of Action was started by the I Stand With Immigrants Initiative. The initiative aims to create campaigns that empower immigrants to share their stories and celebrate their experiences. 

Attendees learned about different activist organizations on the U of I campus. Amnesty International and La Casa Cultural Latina were among the groups present.

Photo Credit: Stephanie Mosqueda/Illinois Student Newsroom

Attendees learned about variousactivist organizations at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Amnesty International and La Casa Cultural Latina were among the groups present. I-CAUSE treasurer Samantha Martin said that the event was made possible with the help of the sorority Sigma Iota Alpha and the College of Education. 

Martin said the organization’s goal was to ensure that people of different backgrounds felt welcomed in the celebration. 

We wanted to emphasize that there are a lot of different ethnicities when it comes to immigrants,” she said. “So we tried to have different groups come and perform to make it feel more like home.”

The event kicked off with a musical performance by Agusto Espiritu, an associate professor of history and Asian-American studies at the UIUC. He performed renditions of “De Colores” and “Deportee.”

Two student groups also performed: Ballet Folklorico Mitotiani and Grupo Illini, which performs music from a variety of Latin genres. 

Nidia Ruedas-Garcia, an assistant professor at the university, spoke at the event. She said people might think that immigrants only come from Latin countries, but that is not the case.

“Immigrants are multi-faceted and they come from all over the globe,” she said. “We hold a connecting thread because of our identity, but there is also a lot of diversity and traditions that make us who we are.”

Attendees had the opportunity to share words of affirmation for the undocumented community in Champaign-Urbana. About 40 sticky notes were placed on the poster.

Photo Credit: Stephanie Mosqueda/Illinois Student Newsroom

Garcia researches the sense of belonging. She said that immigrants and their relatives have certain smells, items, or sounds that make them feel welcome in an environment.

“When I see hoop earrings that reminds me of home. When I see that it makes me feel like someone in the room understands my culture and where I am from,” she said.

Mauricio Cisneros, a UIUC junior, said he heard about the event from a friend and wanted to attend because he has family members who are undocumented.

He said the celebration made him realize there are people on campus whom he can relate to. 

“I can sort of miss my parents at times. It is great to have an event that makes me feel welcomed and makes me feel like I am back at home,” he said.

Cisneros said that one of his favorite parts of the event was learning about the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.

Before the event ended, I-CAUSE members discussed the challenges faced by undocumented people and students protected from deportation by DACA. The members shared information about the history and explained misconceptions about the program. 

Cisneros said he hopes the event showed people in the community how to be better allies for undocumented people.