Mountain View Voice

News - September 20, 2013

Workshop for local immigrant students

Event aims to help 'Dreamers' navigate their way to higher education

by Nick Veronin

Many students at Mountain View and Los Altos high schools will never have to worry about their ability to pay for and attend college. Other teens come from lower-income families, but with hard work and good grades will be able to make their way through the higher education system thanks to grants and student loans.

Then there are those who, despite working hard and earning high grades, face a seemingly impossible battle when it comes to getting into college. Elena Pacheco refers to them as "Dreamers," and she wants them all to attend her workshop for immigrant students on Sept. 25 at Mountain View High School.

Dreamers are the children of illegal immigrants, who were brought to this country by a parent, grandparent, aunt or family friend when they were very young, students who call the United States home even though they are not legally citizens of this country. According to Pacheco, a local immigration rights activist, Dreamers live in fear of deportation and often with the implicit understanding that they won't be able to attend college, since they often come from low-income families and are ineligible for state grants and other financial aid available to citizens.

Dreamers get that moniker because they are the ones who stand to benefit most from the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. California's version of the DREAM Act was passed into law in 2011, and gives students brought to the U.S. illegally an easier path to higher education.

Pacheco is hosting the workshop to help local students understand how the act impacts them and learn what options they have when it comes to going to college.

"We have a huge need in Mountain View with our Dreamers," Pacheco said, explaining that the workshop will have information from a variety of sources and organizations established to help young undocumented immigrants. She said the workshop is intended to help give undocumented youth the information necessary to navigate a complex system and avoid those who would seek to take advantage of them. "I want to make sure they have the resources they need," she said.

The event will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 25, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Mountain View High School Theater, located at 3535 Truman Ave.

Dreamers and their parents are encouraged to attend, Pacheco said.

At the event, students can get information from a variety of organizations, including the Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network (SIREN); the Mexican Consulate of San Jose; Foothill College.

For more information on the immigration workshop, email Pacheco at ElenaDreamersMV@gmail.com.

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