The Evanstonian

Students Without Borders pushes back on new immigration policies

ETHS+Students+Without+Borders+%28SWB%29+club+with+sponsors+Michelle+Vazquez+%28top+right%29+and+Amy+Moore+%28fourth+from+the+left%29+at+end-of-year+party+2018.
ETHS Students Without Borders (SWB) club with sponsors Michelle Vazquez (top right) and Amy Moore (fourth from the left) at end-of-year party 2018.

ETHS Students Without Borders (SWB) club with sponsors Michelle Vazquez (top right) and Amy Moore (fourth from the left) at end-of-year party 2018.

Source: SWB Facebook page.

Source: SWB Facebook page.

ETHS Students Without Borders (SWB) club with sponsors Michelle Vazquez (top right) and Amy Moore (fourth from the left) at end-of-year party 2018.

Maddie Coyle & Maia Roothan, Staff Writers

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Over the past several months, new immigration policies have been implemented, leaving many ETHS families reeling from the impact.

It is important not to ask legal status because it is an invasion of students privacy and can cause discomfort and fear among some students who are undocumented or DREAMers, according to Students Without Borders (SWB) co-president and senior, Sofia Stutz.

There is an abundance of ETHS students who have been affected by immigration policies. These policies are causing some undocumented students to be fearful, according to senior and co-president of SWB, Elena Morales-Grahl.

“Changes in federal immigration policy and the current unpredictability in immigration policies have led to more fear and less hope in our community, a negative change since DACA was instituted in 2012,” SWB sponsor and ETHS art teacher, Amy Moore says.

Issues with legal status can cause some DREAMers to be concerned about college plans because DACA has been weakened, according to SWB member and senior, Carolina Stutz.

Although ETHS declared itself a “safe haven” school in 2017, some students think ETHS needs to have more discussion and awareness around immigration.

“ETHS should be more open about how they feel about immigration,” junior and SWB member, Nikki Garcia says. “I think that they sort of avoid the topic and I think maybe they should make it feel more like a safe haven, or at least spread the word out.”

SWB works to provide a safe space for undocumented students, DREAMers and immigrants to discuss issues they are facing, according to club members. The club has been around for about four years and is currently working to expand, reach and help their fellow students.

“With the Students Without Borders club, people have become more aware. I think it was something people did not know; people did not know there were undocumented students. Now with education, people are super willing to learn and very welcoming,” Morales-Grahl says. “For example, we finally passed a referendum saying you could not ask people if they were undocumented or not, which was a big thing and the administration was very supportive of that.”

Although the club is open to all students, many of the members are allies rather than immigrants, according to SWB co-vice president and sophomore, Naiyah Bryant. She believes that new immigration policies have made it difficult for undocumented students and DREAMers to join the club because they have to hide their legal status.

Students have joined SWB for a variety of reasons. Many members joined because they want to support undocumented students.

“I joined Students Without Borders and have become a leader of the club because of how important immigrant and undocumented issues are and because I wanted to learn more and be able to educate others as well,” Bryant says.

Moore says that she became a sponsor for SWB because a few of her art students notified her of their legal status and she felt compelled to do something.

“I had previously run a DREAMers club at Lane Tech for ten years. I recognized back then that many of my students could not access financial aid for college or faced other barriers to pursuing their dreams,” Moore says. “I felt this was unfair and wanted to do what I could to connect these amazing students with the resources and support they needed and to advocate for their equality.”

Every year SWB raises money for a college scholarship given to an immigrant at ETHS by selling t-shirts, buttons and stickers, The club also receives donations to go towards the scholarship. On their website, they also list a variety of other scholarships for undocumented students, DREAMer students, immigrant students and refugee students.

I hope that at some point, our club will be able to provide scholarships for all of our undocumented seniors who fill out the application,” Stutz says.

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Students Without Borders pushes back on new immigration policies