Yotie Talks: Allies Not Saviors

By Shamce Ahmad |Staff Writer|

CSUSB students who are undocumented immigrants have faced a tough road to a good education, and the Yotie Talk held May 22 served as a notice to those unaware of their hardships.

The event was held at the John M. Pfau Library on the campus of California State University San Bernardino, in room PL-4005.

The presentation was led by Maria Barragan, coordinator of the DREAMers Resource and Success Center, and Yadira Ortiz, the EOP Admissions Counselor.

Both women are beacons of their respective departments and communities, ensuring every one of their students will have opportunities to succeed in a positive environment.

Their offices are places of safety and assistance to those in need, as well as for those who want to help.

Immigration and the status of illegal aliens inside the borders of the United States have been a source of controversy and political posturing in the recent past, but to Ortiz and Barragan, it doesn’t mean that those who hold that label should be turned away from an education.

“It’s very important to know that if we choose to be an ally to those in need, we must be knowledgeable in the resources that we can provide and direct these student towards,” said Ortiz.

Ortiz has learned from experiences that a lot of students are afraid to ask for help, “which is why we need to be ready to help with proper assistance” if called upon.

Barragan spoke about how the relationship between an undocumented student and their school, while beneficial, can also create a tough situation in the home.

“An undocumented student may be getting their education, but we want to do more for their families and help them understand what other options are out there to help their household,” said Barragan. “One person may be getting the aid they need, but another in the house might not be, and it’s important to those family members to all have that opportunity.”

Maybe most importantly of all, the speakers touched base on how we can associate ourselves with these students in a welcoming manner, one that doesn’t rub them the wrong way or scare them off.

“These students, they don’t like to be labeled, but they do also feel they need to be understood for who they are,” said Ortiz. “It is important that we do not generalize them, that we make them feel as important as they are.”

Some of the recognized groups of these students are DREAMers, undocumented students, DACAmented, AB540, UndocuQUEER and UndocuBLACK, among others.

The current self-identified population of undocumented students on campus at CSUSB stands at 601 individuals, and that number is just an indication of how much we need to help our community.

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