Things That Matter

This Latina College Student Was Too Afraid To Renew Her DACA Status And It Cost Her A Position In Student Government

Ana Ramirez is preparing to be a sophomore at Western Washington University. The 19-year-old recently ran for the position of Vice President for Governmental Affairs for the Associated Student Board of Director. The good news: Ramirez won and was elected to the position. The bad news: University officials pulled her from the position because she is undocumented and not a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient. Mitú spoke with Ramirez about what happened.

Ana Ramirez was ready to assume her position as Vice President for Governmental Affairs of Associated Students at Western Washington University.

CREDIT: Ana Ramirez / Facebook

“The position that I was elected to do is like a liaison between administration, the state legislature, the federal government, and the Associated students of Western Washington University,” Ramirez told mitú. “Part of my duties include chairing the legislative affairs counsel, which is a committee that creates the lobby day agendas. My position does all the work on the Western lobby day when we go down to Olympia to lobby. I’d oversee an office called the Representation and Engagement Program that puts on a voter registration drive, which is the largest of all of the colleges in Washington.”

But before she could take on her position, she was told that she might not be able to participate under federal law.

The AS Board Inauguration was a nice way to wrap up the year, as it was the last thing I needed to do before I could pack up and leave Bellingham for a bit. This year has been so long and wild and I never would have imagined I would be in the position that I am now when I first came to Western back in September. This year has been so draining and I'm so tired and I feel so dead and I almost dropped out and I thought about transferring so so so many times, but I'm still here and I'm doing good things and somehow I'm still alive and I owe that to all my lovely friends because I know that at the end of the day I will be okay because I have them ?? Also Larry came to the inauguration and I almost started crying LOL I love Larry ??

A post shared by Ana Ramirez™ (@ana.abigail.ramirez) on

“After careful research and significant review of both creative alternatives and the existing law regarding the possible means by which we can legally compensate our undocumented students who have not received DACA, we have not found a viable option that would allow for payment or even a way to allow for a student to engage in volunteer service when the work involved would otherwise be considered paid work,” Paul Cocke, the director of Office of Communications and Marketing for Western Washington University, told mitú via email. “As much as the University values undocumented students and has a deep commitment to inclusion, we cannot put individual students or the University at risk of violating federal or state law.”

According to both Ramirez and the university spokesperson, the point of contention in Ramirez serving on the Associated Students Board of Directors is her immigration status and lack of DACA, which is currently under review.

CREDIT: Stephanie Cheng / Facebook

“A lot of the reason why I waited [to file for DACA] was because of safety concerns and worrying that the program would end,” Ramirez admitted to mitú. “If I paid $495 and then President Trump cancels this program then I lose all of this money. I need that money. Under President Obama, no DACA recipients were ever detained but now, under President Trump, DACA recipients started being detained. That’s really scary to see and I would be putting out all of my information to people that don’t even want me in this country and they could just find me and take me if they really wanted to.”

Volunteering for the position is also off the table, according to Cocke, because the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services deems that as work.

CREDIT: Ana Ramirez / Facebook

“In addition, federal law indicates undocumented individuals cannot hold a position that would normally include compensation such as an Associated Students elected position that is eligible for compensation,” Cocke told mitú. “Unfortunately, as for temporarily volunteering for an elected position, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) views such volunteering as ‘work,’ even if short in duration, and it requires proper employment authorization issued by that agency.”

But Ramirez says that something should be done to help undocumented students who, unlike her, do not have DACA as an option.

just want y'all to know marching in high heels isn't as easy as I make it look ??#getonmylevel #committedtothecause

A post shared by Ana Ramirez™ (@ana.abigail.ramirez) on

“I am qualified for this position and the only thing holding me back is that I don’t have DACA right now,” Ramirez told mitú. “There are a lot of students that don’t qualify for DACA and they also deserve a chance to be on Associated Students or on the student government because DACA is an option for me but that’s not always going to be the case.”

While university officials acknowledge Ramirez’s talent and qualifications to hold the positions, Cocke told mitú that their hands are tied by federal and state law.

“The University values and seeks to encourage strong student leaders,” Cocke told mitú. “Despite Ana Ramirez’ clear talent and leadership, the University is obligated to separate the individual talent and contributions from legal requirements as the law makes no exceptions based on those personal characteristics.”

As for why she is publicly fighting this fight, Ramirez credits her own desire to overcome her fear.

CREDIT: Ana Ramirez / Facebook

“One of my favorite quotes is, ‘Nos quitaron tanto que nos quitaron el miedo.’ (They’ve taken away so much that they’ve taken away our fear.),” Ramirez told mitú. “We have to lose our fears.”

READ: This Top Latina Athlete Is Refusing To Run For Her College Until It Fixes Its Racism Problem

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Google Is Pledging $250K To Help With DACA Applications And Renewals

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Google Is Pledging $250K To Help With DACA Applications And Renewals

SANDY HUFFAKER / AFP via Getty Images

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, is not a contentious topic among Americans. The program offers young adults who entered the U.S. as children relief from deportation and a chance to live out of the shadows. Now that it has been reinstated, Google wants to help some people achieve the dream of being a DACA recipient.

Google is pledging a quarter of a million dollars to help people apply for DACA.

The Trump administration did everything in their power to end DACA. The constant uncertainty has left hundreds of thousands of young people in limbo. The war waged against Dreamers by the Trump administration came to a temporary end when a federal judge ruled that Chad Wolf was illegally installed as the head of the Department of Homeland Security. It invalidated a member from Wolf stating that no new DACA applications would be approved.

Kent Walker, the SVP of Global Affairs, laid out the case for DACA in an essay.

Walker discusses the uncertainty the hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients currently face after the tumultuous time for the program. He also touches on the economic hardships that has befallen so many because of the pandemic. With so many people out of work, some Dreamers do not have the money to apply or renew their DACA due to a lack of financial resources. For that reason, Google is getting involved.

“We want to do our part, so is making a $250,000 grant to United We Dream to cover the DACA application fees of over 500 Dreamers,” writes Walker. “This grant builds on over $35 million in support that and Google employees have contributed over the years to support immigrants and refugees worldwide, including more than $1 million from Googlers and specifically supporting DACA and domestic immigration efforts through employee giving campaigns led by HOLA (Google’s Latino Employee Resource Group).”

People are celebrating Google for their decision but are calling on Congress to do more.

Congress will ultimately have to decide on what to do for the Dreamers. There has been growing pressure from both sides of the aisle calling on Congress to work towards granting them citizenship. DACA is a risk of being dismantled at any moment. It is up to Congress to come through and deliver a bill to fix the issue once and for all.

“We know this is only a temporary solution. We need legislation that not only protects Dreamers, but also delivers other much-needed reforms,” writes Walker. “We will support efforts by the new Congress and incoming Administration to pass comprehensive immigration reform that improves employment-based visa programs that enhance American competitiveness, gives greater assurance to immigrant workers and employers, and promotes better and more humane immigration processing and border security practices.”

READ: New DACA Applications Were Processed At The End Of 2020 For The First Time In Years

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Biden Says He Will Introduce An Immigration Bill “Immediately” But What Will Be In It?

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Biden Says He Will Introduce An Immigration Bill “Immediately” But What Will Be In It?

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

During the 2020 election, Latinos were a massive electoral voting bloc. In fact, for the first time ever, the Latino vote outnumbered the Black vote. According to the Pew Research Center, there are now 32 million eligible Latino voters and that accounts for 13 percent of all eligible voters. 

And, Latinos helped deliver the presidency to Joe Biden. So it can be expected that the community has high expectations for Joe Biden to deliver on his campaign promises of immigration reform.

During a recent speech about his first 100 days in office, Joe Biden outlined his priorities once he’s sworn in on January 20th, and said he would “immediately” send an immigration bill to congress.

Joe Biden promises swift action on immigration reform as soon as he takes office.

Over the weekend, President-Elect Joe Biden promised he would take swift action when it comes to immigration reform and rolling back many of the cruel and dangerous policies put into place by the Trump administration.

“I will introduce an immigration bill immediately,” he said in a news conference on Friday.

Although he didn’t go into detail regarding the proposed legislation, he’s previously committed to ending Trump’s ban on immigration from predominantly Muslim nations, and that he wants a path to citizenship for Dreamers, and an increase in guest worker permits to help bring undocumented agricultural workers – many of whom are now considered “essential workers” – out of the shadows.

Biden had already promised an immigration overhaul within the first 100 days of his presidency but this commitment definitely increases the pressure on him and congress to get things done.

Biden also said his justice department will investigate the policy of child separation.

During the same press conference, Biden said that his Justice Department will determine responsibility for the family separation program, which led to more than 2,600 children being taken from caregivers after crossing the U.S. southern border, and whether it was criminal.

“There will be a thorough, thorough investigation of who is responsible, and whether or not the responsibility is criminal,” Biden said. That determination will be made by his attorney general-designate, Merrick Garland, he added.

During the campaign, Biden finally took responsibility for many of his administration’s immigration failures.

Nicknamed the “Deporter in Chief,” Obama deported more immigrants than any other president in U.S. history with over 3 million deportations during his time in office. 

But as part of that administration, Joe Biden is also complicit. That’s why during the campaign he seemed to acknowledge at least some of the pain the duo caused.

“Joe Biden understands the pain felt by every family across the U.S. that has had a loved one removed from the country, including under the Obama-Biden Administration, and he believes we must do better to uphold our laws humanely and preserve the dignity of immigrant families, refugees, and asylum-seekers,” Biden’s immigration plan reads. 

While Obama’s methods pale in comparison to the cruel tactics like family separation, inhumane conditions, and targeted raids, the impact the deportations have had on families is cannot be quantified.

Biden, like any Vice President, is put in the position of having to defend his president, but also himself as the future president. This isn’t a bad thing, Biden must distinguish himself from his predecessor but if the shadow of Obama’s legacy is buying him goodwill, it might be difficult to undermine that administration’s stances.

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