Students organize rally in support of undocumented community
About 100 University of Illinois students marched around campus on April 27 as part of a rally to stand in solidarity with the undocumented community.
I-CAUSE, a student organization that focuses on representing undocumented students on campus, led the group by chanting phrases like, “No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcomed here!”
The Coming Out of the Shadows, Staying in the Light Rally was part of I-CAUSE’s Undocumonth, a month where the organization hosts events to help educate the community on how to support undocumented students.
Lizbeth Garcia, the organization’s co-president of activism, said she came up with the idea for the rally after she noticed that some of her friends did not understand what being undocumented meant.
“Oftentimes, outside of the Latino community, a lot of people do not know about the undocumented community,” Garcia said. “They don’t know what it’s like. They don’t know the struggles we go through.”
Garcia, a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, recipient, said she is no longer ashamed of being undocumented and wanted the rally to empower other DACA recipients, too.
“I want the rally to be a place where the undocumented community can take up space and feel proud of who they are,” she said.
Students and professors shared their experiences of being undocumented at the rally, including Christian Ramirez, a Latino studies professor at the university.
In his speech, Ramirez said undocumented students need teachers that connect with their stories and struggles.
“We need to hire people that understand these experiences because when you feel it, it is different than having a professor that just knows it in theory or in a book,” Ramirez said.
In addition to bringing the undocumented community together, Ramirez said the rally also served as a way to combat the negative stereotypes people associate with the community.
Jackie Aguayo, a freshman in political science, agreed.
“Sometimes, when people look at these communities, they often look at them with hatred or not as positive,” Aguayo said. “So, just looking at them with companionship, love and amistad is the best thing that we can do.”
Maritza Dominguez, I-CAUSE’s co-president of activism, said she hopes the rally spreads awareness and inspires change on campus.
“I just hope that people become more aware of the undocumented community on campus and see the presence, power and unity of all of us coming together,” Dominguez said. “I just hope it makes U of I become a place that is more open and inclusive.”