Undergraduate Student Government Residential Senator Sabrina Enriquez is working on a resource guide for prospective and continuing students who are undocumented immigrants, which she hopes to release on USG’s website before Thanksgiving break.
In June, Enriquez attended the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in Washington, D.C.
At the conference, she took part in a workshop on the necessity of providing resources and centers for undocumented students.
After the conference, Enriquez researched what resources USC has to offer undocumented students and found that there is no University-wide policy regarding undocumented students or a center for the students on campus.
Enriquez set out to make a guide so that undocumented students have some direction when completing the Common Application, finding scholarships they are eligible for and receiving support on campus from the Latina/o, Black and Asian Pacific American student assemblies.
“[Undocumented students] are the most marginalized — they’re marginalized in the public sphere and being students who are paying to come to this University, they’re offered no help or guidance,” Enriquez said. “My long-term goal is to have a resource center [for undocumented students] like they have at UC Davis, UC Berkeley and all the other UCs.”
USG President Rini Sampath said the move is part of a larger effort by USG to support underrepresented students.
“One of our priorities this year has been to bring these marginalized students to the forefront, and I think that’s what this initiative reflects,” she said. “I know we have a greater purpose in student government through our cultural assemblies and our committees to serve students who come from various communities and … creating a resource guide is one of the ways to tackle the lack of administrative attention to undocumented students.”
Enriquez’s guide addresses if undocumented students can attend USC and helps prospective students in filling out the Common Application, advising them to leave their resident status and Social Security numbers blank.
The guide also provides students with a list of scholarships that do not require the applicant to be a U.S. citizen or legal resident to ensure that undocumented students have the opportunity to attend college despite the fact that many of them are not eligible for financial aid or federal work study.
Enriquez said few undocumented students apply to USC because they are misinformed about University policies.
“We’re missing out on so many top-tier students because they don’t know that they can come here or the resources aren’t available for them to come here,” Enriquez said. “How can we claim that we are recruiting the best and the brightest when an entire population is being left out?”
Because immigration laws are constantly in flux, Enriquez wants the University to hire counselors who are knowledgeable about policies regarding undocumented students so they can guide these students in accordance to laws regarding their status and on finding the right federal resources. She also wants counselors to provide these students with information on finding affordable housing near campus and resources to ensure that undocumented students do not have to take extensive leaves of absence to work in order to pay for college.
Enriquez said building a strong community on campus is another one of her priorities.
“I think that by building these communities and networks, it will not only take away the stigma, but also encourage those [undocumented students] who are here to reach out and join these communities and feel more empowered because this is their university as much as [it is] anyone else’s,” Enriquez said.
Sampath said the University lacks accessible data on undocumented students and their experience at USC.
“We really don’t know what our undocumented student demographic looks like because at the moment there aren’t any statistics or public information about them in regards to USC,” Sampath said. “I think what step one should be is figuring out how can we serve these students by bringing their voices to light and then addressing those concerns based on their needs.”