Tell your stories.
That’s the advice attendees of the Hispanic Heritage Month Reception at Cal State Fullerton on Sept. 20 heard from a man who ran across the border near Tijuana at age 5 and grew up to be sworn in as a New York state lawyer without legal immigration status.
Students asked Cesar Vargas what can be done for undocumented youth and for their parents at a time when the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is scheduled to be rescinded in March and plans to tighten border security and address undocumented immigrants have created fear in that community.
He advised them to tell their stories, especially to people who have never known an undocumented immigrant. Don’t just talk about what the undocumented aren’t, he said. Talk about what they are – successful students and community members – and the experiences that got them here.
“It’s as simple as that,” Vargas said. “I do believe that great things in history happen because we all stand together.”
It takes only a small group of people to bring about change, he said, whether it’s going to CSUF President Mildred García’s office and saying, “Hey, can we get this program going” or paying a visit to the district office of their congressional representative, Vargas suggested.
While he advised students whose DACA protection expires before March 5 to speak with an immigration attorney, he advised others to advocate.
“Be disruptive. Keep going to school. Keep studying. Keep working. And keep contributing to the country we call home,” Vargas said. “That is the best way we can challenge, that is the best way we can tell our elected officials that this is our home, that’s the best way we can demonstrate that no one is going to kick us out. We are here and we are here to stay.”
DACA never defined the Latino community and will not define it, he told the audience. “We’re going to secure something permanent. But it’s about moving together.”
Vargas was one of the first immigrants without legal status in New York state to be sworn in as a lawyer, according to The New York Times. He has become a leader in the fight…