Reopened DREAM Center to support undocumented students

IDEAS Executive Chair Ana Mercado (right)explains the opportunities students, staff and administrators can take advantage of at the DREAM Center. (Gabi Thur De Koos | Daily Trojan)

Amid an unpredictable political climate, campus organization Improving Dreams, Education and Academic Success relaunched the Pop-Up

DREAM Center for undocumented students on Wednesday.

The center will offer office hours with the Immigration Clinic and the Health Center, Career Center workshops and a welcoming space for undocumented students and allies to talk, study and relax.

“I think having this space symbolizes not only resources physically but also hope,” IDEAS executive chair Ana Mercado said. “We know that we’re building an alliance, building a community of students, of faculty, of professors, of administrators, that can help us not just while we’re in college but farther beyond.”

Mercado and others involved in IDEAS and the DREAM Center have focused on building tools for the USC undocumented community. At the meeting, organizers discussed the organization’s accomplishments and history along with their success in adding “Immigration and DACA Status” as a tab on the University’s admission website.

“When I came in, there was already existing resources and a lot of energy from faculty and students along these issues and so my job was really just to come in, understand the resources we have and connect with the individual students so they could take advantage of those resources,” said Vanessa Gomez Brake, the associate dean of religious life and point-person for undocumented students.

IDEAS wants to bring the DREAM Center, which is located in Kaprielian Hall, closer to the center of campus to be more convenient for students. Mercado and others are currently focused on demonstrating the need for improved space to the University by collecting data.

“I hope that students do utilize this space because at the end of the day this space is here,” Mercado said. “It might not be how we want it but I think it’s a stepping stone to get to where we want.”

The DREAM Center has provided immigration resources for students, staff and administrators since IDEAS initially launched it at USC in last spring after similar programs were observed at other universities. The club has aimed to create a safe and supportive space, while advocating for the undocumented community.

The DREAM Center will continue to circulate information regarding upcoming workshops through flyers and social media. Mercado and the IDEAS team hope to continue to reach more undocumented students and serve as a permanently accessible safe space on campus.