To help ensure undocumented and international students at UCLA have enough money for course materials, housing, food and support services, the campus has created a fundraising campaign called #UCLAForAll.
The campaign, which is hosted on the UCLA Spark crowdfunding site, launched April 5 with a goal of raising $50,000 by May 7.
UCLA Chancellor Gene Block welcomed more than 100 students, faculty and staff to a Q&A session about resources available to undocumented and international students on campus April 5 at Dodd Hall.
“What I want for all our students is for you to be successful — to study, to have successful careers — and not to have to worry about other things in your life that you shouldn’t have to worry about,” he said.
Abel Valenzuela, professor of Chicana and Chicano studies and special adviser on the Chancellor’s Advisory Council on Immigration Policy, urged the audience to help promote the initiative.
“For years we’ve known these students have had unmet needs on campus, and these drastic immigration changes further challenge our students,” he said. “We also want to encourage you to donate and to spread the word with your social networks. We need a large crowd to meet and hopefully surpass our fundraising goals.”
The money from #UCLAForAll will be used to offer services and support through several offices on campus. Funds will be directed to scholarship and tuition assistance and to programs overseen by the office of the vice chancellor for student affairs: UCLA’s Emergency Crisis Response Team, which provides financial assistance to students facing financial emergencies, and the Undocumented Student Program at UCLA. Decisions about how the money is distributed will be made in consultation with a committee of students and administrators who are familiar with the needs of international and undocumented students.
In a video to promote the campaign, Lyra Kim, an undergraduate studying political science, speaks about the challenges she and other undocumented students face.
“When I look to the future, there’s a lot of uncertainty,” she says. “With the immigration policy the way it is right now, there’s a lot of constant fear about, ‘What will I have to spend my money on next, and will that take away from things that I need to survive, like rent and food?’”
Without access to federal financial aid, undocumented and international students can struggle to pay for core educational needs like tuition and textbooks, as well as everyday needs like transportation, food and shelter. They also often face unexpected legal fees associated with their immigration status.
“It’s been financially, emotionally draining, in a way, since I live here on my own,” Marisol Granillo Arce says in the video. Arce, who is pursuing a master’s degree in social welfare at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, often has to worry about whether she’s going to be able to afford her next meal.
Valeria Garcia, director of the undocumented student program at UCLA, says in the video that financial support provided from #UCLAForAll will allow international and undocumented students to focus more of their time and energy on their studies.
At the Dodd Hall event, Garcia and other panelists spoke about the resources available to those who are affected by changes to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the temporary protected status program and the travel ban that applies to Muslim-majority countries. In September, President Donald Trump said that DACA, which allows some people who entered the United States undocumented as children to hold employment and not face immediate deportation for two-year renewable periods, would end. Courts later ordered that renewals must still be processed, but new applications are no longer being accepted. About 600 to 700 UCLA undergraduates and graduate students are DACA recipients.
In addition to Garcia, the other panelists were Maria Blandizzi, dean for students at UCLA; Habiba Simjee, an attorney for the UC Undocumented Legal Services; Norma Mendoza-Denton, associate dean of the graduate division; Sam Nahidi, interim director of the Dashew Center for International Students and Scholars; and Jerry Kang, vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion.
The University of California system also provides services for undocumented students and information on immigration; and UC leaders have asserted the university’s commitment (PDF) to the rights of undocumented students.
Learn more about the campaign or donate to #UCLAForAll at UCLA Spark.