*originally published by The Santa Clara on May 1, 2014.
Art and anecdotes adorn structure, discussion prompted
Santa Clara organizations are collaborating to raise awareness about immigration issues through a week of events and a mock border wall on campus.
The chain-link fence dividing Kenna Lawn is covered with a combination of art, statistical charts, interactive pieces and testimonies. Its visibility is intended to bring the issue of immigration to the forefront and provide a space for discussion.
The week’s goal is to bust myths about immigration, present various perspectives and experiences, and show the complexity of an issue that may be oversimplified.
“We hope it allows students to ask questions they have,” said Lauren Farwell, Santa Clara Community Action Program’s empowerment department coordinator. “(We want them to) reflect on their perspectives of immigration and where those views come from and how we could apply them constructively to improve on a broken immigration system.”
Multiple clubs and organizations have contributed to the week, such as SCCAP’s Labor Action Committee, the Ethnic Studies and Latin American Studies Programs, Campus Ministry and the Office for Multicultural Learning.
This is the third annual Immigration Week. The theme this year is “Justice Knows No Borders.”
Events so far this week have included documentary showings, speaker panels and an open-mic night that provided students with the chance to share their stories of immigration through spoken word, song and other artistic outlets.
Although Immigration Week is coming to a close, there are still upcoming events. Students can meet at the Harrington Learning Commons entrance at 1:30 p.m. today to take part in the International Day of the Laborer Rally in San Jose, Calif.
Campus Ministry will hold an Agape multi-faith prayer service at 11:45 a.m. on Friday by the mock border wall titled “Breaking Bread, Breaking Borders.”
By putting a face to immigration, the event seeks to humanize the issue and reveal its importance.
The word ‘illegal’ assumes that a person’s existence is invalid and criminal. No human is illegal.
Use ‘undocumented’ instead. It recognizes someone’s humanity.”
In order to combat the numbness associated with numbers and statistics, the wall includes symbolic art to give students a more tangible and emotional connection with the subject.
Damian Gomez-Sierra, a junior psychology major, thinks the mock border wall is a valuable tool in bringing attention to Santa Clara Dreamers, undocumented immigrant students who are trying to obtain a college education.
“The wall reflects the obstacles undocumented students could be facing, whether it’s financially and even socially,” said Gomez-Sierra. “There’s a notion that they take away financial aid and scholarships from other students, but those beliefs spawn prejudices and stigma toward them.”
The Hurtado Scholars Program in particular focuses on providing aid to students with “extraordinary life circumstances,” according to the Office for Multicultural Learning. Through this scholarship, the university is able to help those who attend Santa Clara as undocumented students.
“I am at (Santa Clara) not only trying to achieve my dreams but also the dreams of my mother,” said an undocumented Santa Clara student who wished to remain anonymous. “She worked endless nights to get me and my three siblings to a land she calls ‘the land of opportunities.’”
Among all the graphics on the mock border wall this week, one poster’s message stands out: “No human being is illegal y cada uno tiene un sueño,” meaning “and each has a dream.”