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SMC club studies immigration

Kaitlyn Rabach | Monday, April 8, 2013

La Fuerza, a Saint Mary’s club representing Latina culture on campus, is holding a Week of Action titled “Education Without Barriers” explore the intersection of immigration issues and education.

This year’s events will “to expose the community to the issue of immigration and its relationship with education in the U.S”, sophomore club president Dara Marquez said.

The first event, a panel titled “What Does it Mean to be Undocumented?” will be held tonight in the Student Center Lounge from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

“We want to improve how students on campus see immigration and Latino students in general,” Marquez said. “Discussion panels, lectures and a featured art gallery are some of the events we have planned for the week and these events will work to expose the issue to our community here at Saint Mary’s.”

La Fuerza’s Week of Action began in 2006. Marquez said its creators wanted it to be an annual event focused on different issues tied in with immigration.

“This year we chose to look at how immigration affects education within the Latino community,” Marquez said. “We wanted to look at it from both a national and local level.”

To bring the issue closer to home, Marquez said the group decided to collaborate with La Casa de Amistad, a non-profit community center with several programs serving the Latino community in the South Bend area.

“When we first contacted La Casa de Amistad about collaborating with them this year we wanted to know what the center thought was important to focus in on,” Marquez said. “They said application fees for the ACT, SAT or even college applications can be very burdensome on families.”

After learning of this burden, Marquez said the group decided to focus on raising donations to help local Latino students cover these fees and “help take these monetary strains off some of the families.”

“We will be hosting a table in the student center atrium all week asking for donations to help cover these fees,” Marquez said.

Growing up in Elkhart, Indiana, Marquez said this week of action means a great deal to her personally.

“I grew up listening to stories of undocumented family members and friends,” Marquez said. “If you are undocumented it is difficult to find financial aid and other resources.”

This week is about changing the face of immigration on campus, she said.

“I believe there is a misconception of immigration on our campus,” Marquez said. “Catholic Social Thought says human dignity is directly tied in with immigration and I think that is often forgotten. I want students to attend this week’s events and next time they hear of a student being deported or someone talking about immigration they can put a face to the issue.”