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SCIA calls for immigration reform

Tori Roeck | Monday, October 1, 2012

Formed last semester under the guidance of Cardinal Roger Mahony, the Student Coalition for Immigration Advocacy (SCIA), a part of Movimiento Estudiante Chicano de Aztlan (MEChA), seeks to promote education, awareness and advocacy for immigration reform on campus.

Sophomore Juan Rangel said the group is part of Mahony’s effort to spark interest in immigration among college students at Catholic colleges.

“[Mahony’s] mission was to set up a network of Catholic universities, starting with the Midwest, but then expanding around the country, to encourage college students to get involved with immigration reform and become interested in the issue,” Rangel said. “That’s what the mission of the club is now, to expand that mission as he started, primarily focusing on Notre Dame.”

When Mahony visited Notre Dame last semester, he gave a lecture about the Dream Act, a bill that calls for expanded citizenship and education opportunities for young illegal immigrants, and there he commissioned students interested in immigration to band together, Rangel said.

This year, the group will split into three committees: education, advocacy and awareness, he said.

“Education is primarily focused on awareness of the issue at Notre Dame, dispelling any false rumors or myths that are going on about immigration,” Rangel said. “And then advocacy, we’re trying to talk to the administration and [University president] Fr. [John] Jenkins to see if they’ll allow undocumented students to come to campus to study at Notre Dame, like Holy Cross and Saint Mary’s already do. Notre Dame hasn’t done that yet, so we’re hoping that we’re able to encourage participation at that level of the University.”

So far, SCIA has distributed buttons featuring a picture of the American flag and the phrase “I’mmigrant,” Rangel said.

“[The buttons] say that we’re all immigrants, one way or another,” he said.

In the future, the group plans to sponsor forums, lectures and other events to spark conversation on immigration reform, Rangel said.

All interested students are invited to attend SCIA’s first meeting Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. in the Notre Dame Room in LaFortune Student Center, but Rangel said students not in SCIA can also play a part in raising awareness about immigration on campus.

“Students can start even just talking about immigration in general,” he said. “A lot of students think, and even the American public in general, that it’s kind of not talked about, but in the past the Dream Act has had bipartisan support and … the immigration debate has been bipartisan. It’s not just a partisan issue like many people think it is.”  

Rangel said SCIA has high hopes for the year.

“We want to get as many people that are interested in the club to join us so that way we can have a full year of activities,” he said.

Contact Tori Roeck at
vroeck@nd.edu