Undocumented and Unafraid: Students come out at Dominican

By Rene Howard-Paez

March 20, 2013

Amidst chants of “up up with education, down down with deportation,” about 50 several undergraduates and faculty at Dominican University gathered last week to hear some students publicly claim their statuses as undocumented and band together in support.

On Thurs., March 14, a crowd organized by the Dominican Immigrant Student Collective gathered in front of the Legacy Statue, where undocumented students shared their experiences and allies supported their fellow classmates.

Merari Bahena, a senior at Dominican who is also an undocumented immigrant, was the first student to stand up and share her experience.

Although undocumented, Bahena identifies equally with her American culture.

“I grew up in this country; I know the Star-Spangled Banner more than I know El Himno Mexicano,” Bahena said.

Bahena struggled with not being able to attain loans for school, but that didn’t deter her from pursuing her dream.

“I will be graduating this year debt free,” she explained. “It did not destroy my dreams. It made me fight a hard battle, because I had no choice.

Senior Carmen Gutierrez is not undocumented, but recognizes and appreciates what struggles students have to overcome.

“[Merari] is taking 7 classes now and working full-time, she really is a great inspiration and an example to anyone. Gutierrez said.

After remarks from another student, the microphone was open to anyone else.

Students, faculty and staff followed showing their support for undocumented students, reminding those in attendance to not give up.

As Gutierrez said, “I’m glad they are raising their voices because it’s not fair that a decision their parents made and not having that [social security] number creates a barrier for their thirst.