Undocumented Resource Area opens amid challenges to DACA program


David Santillan

University officials celebrate the opening of the Undocumented Resource Area.

by David Santillan, Assistant News Editor

San Diego State’s Undocumented Resource Area officially opened its doors on May 2 during a heartfelt ceremony that featured alumni and community members as guest speakers.

It’s been nearly a year since the Trump administration announced the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals last September, placing the future of nearly 700,000 program recipients on hold.

Despite this, the students and community members in attendance who have been affected by the administration’s decision said they remained hopeful.

“It was a wonderful, celebratory event on a very historic day for the university,” then-university president Sally Roush — she left office in June — said.

Child development senior Ana Gutierrez, who helped facilitate the ceremony, said afterward that she felt a sense of unity.

“It’s about the consequences and outcomes of what happens when a group of students reach out and start being vocal,” Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez said she arrived in the United States as a child and has always been aware of her immigration status as undocumented. She said it was never an issue until she started applying to universities and financial aid.

It was during this time that she realized she could no longer go on ignoring what she described as “the elephant in the room.”

“It definitely has not been easy,” Gutierrez said about her journey as an undocumented student.

But, with the help of the Office of Education Opportunities and Ethnic Affairs, and now the Undocumented Resource Area, she said she’s been able to open up about her immigration status and become an advocate for herself and others.

Alumna Gloria Cardenas, who spoke during the ceremony, was proud to see undocumented students finally having their own designated space to meet.

“It allows for students to know that there is a safe space for them and they don’t have to be hiding (their undocumented status),” Cardenas said.  

Cardenas, who graduated from SDSU in 2008, said that back then undocumented students used to congregate in the basement of the Malcolm A. Love Library.

“When we got together 10 years ago in the basement, we were just trying to meet other people like us,” Cardenas said.  

Cardenas added that this opening shows the commitment the university has for providing more resources to its undocumented students.

While some people see the opening of the Undocumented Resource Area as a step forward in providing more services to undocumented students, SDSU is still behind other universities in the county that have fully staffed undocumented resource centers.

For example, students that attend UC San Diego can go into the undocumented resource center and seek services that include legal counsel, a resource that SDSU has not been able to yet provide.

Despite this, Undocumented Resource Area Coordinator Cynthia Torres said the center will be a place where undocumented students and student allies will be able to come in and share their experiences and with time, expand to provide more resources.

“I really hope that students who are maybe shy about coming in will come in and see what we have to offer,” Torres said.