The Friendly Immigrant is a registered student organization which is made up of immigrants and people who support the mission to advocate for immigrants’ access to education. They recently held a forum to inform the community about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
Torres said the group “received a lot of great questions regarding our status as students here at the University. We were able to answer these questions clearly and even debunked some of the myths that surround immigration. We clarified on there is truly no pathway or ‘line’ to become citizens. DACA only differs deportation two years at a time.”
Cynthia Torres, senior secondary education major, said “We wanted to educate the public about DACA through our stories and the constant hurdles that we’ve overcome throughout our educational career, and I think it did just that. It was informative and personal. We used our stories as a way to connect to our audience, since we were all brought to the United States around the ages of 2-4. We grew up with an American Education and pretty much had similar lives everyone else who grew up here.”
According to the Migration Policy Institute, 6,000 immigrants residing in Missouri are immediately eligible for DACA.
“We spoke of our stories before DACA was put into place in 2012 and how it has helped us tremendously with receiving a certain status in this country, and allowing us to get identification and work authorization. Before DACA was put into place, we all felt uncertainty and fear of coming out as undocumented,” said Torres.
Somewhere between 80-100 people attended the event including people from Missouri Southern, Pittsburg High School, and Crowder College.
“We definitely were not expecting that big of a crowd which was super exciting. We had to move everyone into the ballroom in BSC to accommodate everyone. It felt very empowering to speak to such a big group and receive questions on how people can help,” said Torres.
In the future, the group plans to create a network with other students who are also under DACA in the area.
“Since many people were interested in how they can help, we have also been taking about creating a foundation for DACA students —this of course would be a big project, but we want to start thinking about the future of this group and how creating this would help others like us to have access to a higher education” said Torres.