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Promoting equal access for immigrant students by developing resources and support, as well as educating the public about relevant policies.
Brought to this country as young children by parents hoping to give them a better life, they have overcome language barriers, discrimination and economic obstacles to reach a top academic institution — often the first in their families to attend college.
This success story describes multiple students who enroll at UCLA each year. But there is another part to the story. Despite their academic accomplishments and perseverance in beating the odds, they are barred from most scholarships, ineligible for student loans and unable to legally work. They are undocumented immigrants, and for many, there is no pathway to legal status.
The Dream Resource Center, a project of the UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education, promotes equal access for immigrant students by developing educational resources, leadership tools and support mechanisms, as well as educating the public about relevant local and national policies.
The Labor Center has emerged as a national leader in research, education and policy on undocumented immigrant student issues. The Dream Resource Center grew out of developments that date to 2007, when the Labor Center established the first UCLA course on immigrant rights and higher education. That course inspired the book Underground Undergrads: UCLA Undocumented Immigrant Students Speak Out, which captures the stories of undocumented immigrant students. More than 100 events surrounding the book’s widely acclaimed publication sparked the founding of the Dream Resource Center (originally called the Underground Undergrads project).
Major Dream Resource Center initiatives include the Dream Summer, an internship program; Graduates Reaching a Dream Deferred, founded by undocumented graduate students and Labor Center interns in 2010 to address the needs of undocumented youth interested in pursuing graduate education; and The Collective of Immigrant Resilience through Community Led Empowerment (CIRCLE) project, which holds talking circles and professional-development workshops for undocumented youth, including those who identify as gay, to discuss their experiences of being undocumented and to receive support.
The Dream Resource Center’s objective is to prepare for the day when immigration reform would provide undocumented immigrant youth with a pathway to citizenship. Such a development would spark a major demand for educational and legal assistance for hundreds of thousands of young people who could be encouraged to apply for legal status through higher education. The Dream Resource Center is intent on developing immigrant student leaders and a communications strategy so that when reform comes, a new generation of immigrant youth can successfully pursue their educational dreams.
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