ISCIR is a statewide network of campus-based student groups that was founded in response to SEA590, which allows police officers to ask for proof of citizenship if they have reasonable suspicion that a person is not a legal immigrant, and HEA1402, which prohibits in-state tuition and scholarships for undocumented students.
“There are youths who feel that they can’t have a future, even though they’ve been living here their whole lives, because they can’t afford their education,” ISCIR member Ronak Shah said. “Nobody should ever feel like they have no hope for themselves. If the barrier is the legal system, then there’s something wrong with that system.”
Shah is one of the founders of ISCIR Bloomington, along with Cari Morales and Fred Diego.
“A few of us were passionate about this issue, and we decided to get together to work collaboratively with other campuses,” Morales said. “People were interested, and they wanted to do something about it. That’s why we’re here.”
Morales said he is involved in this group because she wants to make a difference.
“I want everyone to have the same rights as I do,” she said. “I want to see communities working together instead of targeting each other.”
She said she hopes ISCIR Bloomington will help facilitate such change.
The group recently received a grant from Campus Progress through the Center for American Progress after its members sent a proposal to the organization and is now focusing on recruiting new members. The group will be holding another call-out meeting in January to establish a larger body of student members interested in working for the cause.
“I’m hoping that a lot of people from a wide range of backgrounds will see how their interests align with that of the group,” Shah said.
While the group does not have a set agenda yet, he said possible plans for the future include holding events that raise awareness about immigration issues, fundraising for scholarships, proposing amendments to HEA1402 and pressuring state representatives to pass the Development, Relief and Education or Alien Minors Act that would give illegal immigrants a chance to obtain citizenship.
Shah said the organization will be able to give voice to a community that has previously been ignored.
“Immigrants are usually kept invisible from the public,” he said. “We want to lift up that veil of invisibility.”
Diego said the fruition of such goals will lead to an improvement in the lives of thousands of people.
“We will have reopened doors to opportunities and removed obstacles that had barred them from achieving their dreams,” he said. “An undocumented student wouldn’t have to pick crops or wash dishes for the rest of his life. He would have the opportunity to become a doctor.”
Diego said immigration affects him personally. Not only are his parents immigrants, but he has close friends whose lives have been turned upside-down by laws like HEA1402.
“They feel that they’re being forced into an ugly, dusty corner because they don’t have access to education,” Diego said. “It wasn’t their choice to come here, but now that they are here, they’re being denied the very opportunities that their parents sacrificed everything for.”
Because he has had many opportunities, Diego said it is his duty to make sure others have the same rights.
“These laws oppress people, and if no one stands up to them, they’ll continue,” he said. “They will eventually oppress larger groups that didn’t do anything before because they themselves weren’t affected. It won’t be good.”
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