California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

    Students Advocate For Immigration Empowerment

    The Sarah W. Heath Center for Equality and Justice approved an immigration empowerment advocacy program that is set to start next semester.

    The CEJ recieved a $5,000 grant from the Social Justice Fund of Ventura County, California Lutheran University Political Science Department Chair José Marichal said.

    The grant was obtained through a written proposal that was turned into a competition from the SJF. The theme of the grant changes every year and is centered around a social justice issue of interest in Ventura County.

    This year, the theme was immigration empowerment. In Feb. 2018, Marichal was asked to moderate a forum that brought leaders from different parts of the community together to discuss and identify needs of the immigrant community. This was done in partnership with CEJ Director and Assistant Professor of Sociology Cynthia Duarte.

    “As a result of the forum, I came back and said, ‘You know, we don’t really have a good way to train our young students that want to serve as advocates for their community,’” Marichal said. “We have a lot of interest and a lot of students that say, ‘I want to give back, I want to help my community.’”

    Marichal asked Duarte to help co-write the grant and received help from Kelly Owens, director of Sponsored Research and Projects.

    Marichal said Cal Lutheran has never before had a program to help train students to become immigration advocates.

    “The idea is based off the Posse [Foundation], where they train first generation [college students] and students of color to become campus leaders and to serve as leaders of diversity,” Marichal said.

    Eight students will be recruited to take a one-credit course in which they will learn about prominent issues in immigrant communities, meet different organizations that serve immigrants and be trained in tools and skills that will help them be advocates in the community.

    “One of the missions of the Center for Equality and Justice is to engage students on issues of social justice, which fits right into that emphasis that we have,” Duarte said. “It’s something that I have been wanting to grow—I want to grow involvement in the center.”

    The one-credit course will consist of four Saturday workshops.

    During summer 2019, the eight immigration empowerment advocates will join a local organization for six weeks to work on a “community-based project.” Recipients will also receive a $500 stipend.

    While speaking Spanish is not a requirement, Marichal said it could be helpful.

    “We extended the deadline because originally, we were trying to select students from Ventura County because the grant came from Ventura County,” Duarte said.

    The program received so much interest from people who are not Ventura County residents that Duarte and Marichal decided to open it up to everyone.

    “Regardless of who is in power, it is important for all communities to be empowered—in particular, communities who have undocumented residents in their communities,” Marichal said.

    A group will select the eight immigration empowerment advocates and help keep the program accountable. While the program is considered a pilot program, Duarte and Marichal both said they hope to continue it for years to come.

    “We have been marketing through CLU Postings, Facebook, Instagram and reaching out to department assistants,” CEJ Student Program Coordinator Garrett Mueller said.

    Mueller said students are excited to have this program on campus. He said he hopes students realize the privilege some may have over immigrant communities and that they will use it to share their experiences.

    The application to the Immigration Empowerment Advocacy program closes on Nov. 9 and can be found online.

    Vianca Castaneda-Correa