The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Define American chapter— a group dedicated to spreading awareness about immigrants, identity and citizenship--has set up a lecture to discuss issues surrounding immigration. Mindy Rush-Chipman, an immigration attorney from Justice for Our Neighbors, will lead a discussion Tuesday about the immigration system and ways to support immigrant students.
The event, called “Immigration 101: Educate, Support, Advocate,” will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the Unity room of the Jackie Gaughan Multicultural Center.
The immigration process can be long and difficult for many individuals, said Joel Orozco, program coordinator at the Office of Academic Success and Intercultural Services and primary advisor for Define American at UNL.
The group’s president, Valeria Rodriguez, said she agreed.
“There are individuals who can go through the entire process and get legalization, but then there are individuals who can’t get their legal status,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said that she hopes the event will clarify misconceptions about the immigration process. She said that sometimes people ask immigrants, “Oh why don’t you just go get your papers?”
“Well it’s not that simple,” Rodriguez said.
In 2012, the United States announced that certain people who came to the U.S. as children and who met several guidelines may request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years. The criteria included a high school diploma, no criminal record and proof of good citizenship. Individuals must have been between fifteen to thirty years of age and must have entered the U.S. before their fifteenth birthday.
However, Orozco says that these guidelines function only as a Band-Aid to help a bleeding system. Define American at UNL hopes that the event will educate students, staff and faculty about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
“The goal is to provide information based on personal narratives from people and to put a face to immigration,” Orozco said, “A lot of people think that this couldn’t happen in other spaces … To be able to put a face to immigration and that it’s not just at the border. It could be a classmate, it could be a professor, and we should start talking about this because it’s affecting a lot of people.”