“Dreamers” step out

The California Dream Act from the Assembly Bills 130 and 13 allows some undocumented students to apply for and receive state-based financial aid and institutional scholarships.

Assembly Bill 540 is a California state law that made additions to the California Education Code in Section 68130.5, which exempts the payment of non-resident tuition for certain non-resident students. Some of the many eligibility factors of the bill are attending at least three full years of high school, receiving a high school diploma and enrolling in an institution of higher education.

These undocumented students call themselves the “Dreamers.”

California Lutheran University supports Dreamers and AB-540 students.

“The most important thing we do is offer a welcoming supportive environment where a student can be who they are and not worry about their immigration status,” said Matthew Ward, vice president of enrollment management and marketing. “We offer some support in housing, certain kinds of financial aid programs and developed the student food pantry. We also brought in some legal counsel so a student can have some help with their immigration legal work,”

Junior Catalina Jaramillo learned about Dreamers during her senior year of high school.

“I always knew I didn’t have a social security number, but that didn’t really bother me until it came to applying for schools,” Jaramillo said.

Jaramillo wasn’t aware that CLU supported Dreamers until coming to the university.

“I came here because it was my top choice when it came to choosing schools from high school. And I just liked it here, so when I found out that they had a program for Dreamers, I knew I came to the right school and made the right choice,” Jaramillo said.

Senior Flavio Guzman found that it was difficult to be treated equally and fairly when it came to applying for schools.

“I knew that [CLU] was the school that was ready to help me. Some schools didn’t even bother to look at my application because I was AB-540 and I didn’t have enough resources,” Guzman said.

CLU offers the equal opportunity for anyone to receive a higher education.

“There is a support network and we are graduating students every year. California Lutheran University is a welcoming place,” Ward said.

Jaramillo explains that there are many people who oppose the Dream Act and the AB-540 bill. She addressed the common misconceptions that people have of undocumented students coming to America to steal resources from American citizens.

“We’re here to study because our countries that we come from sometimes can’t give us what we want. It’s harder to get an education over there than it is here and most people come over here for job opportunities,” Jaramillo said.

According to Jaramillo, prospective students should get involved, be who they are and never be scared to speak up because there is always people who are willing to listen.

“Something that helps me out is saying I’m not just doing this for myself; I’m doing this for other fellow dreamers, family and community. I kind of help set the example and knowing that they have my back is all the encouragement that I need,” Guzman said.

Despite the support that they may receive from CLU, Dreamers are afraid to come forward and reach out for help. Many are quiet and unwilling to share their experiences because of their fear of how people would change their views of them.

According to Guzman, Dreamers need to have courage to step out into the world unafraid because they are no different than others just because of a paper or social security number.

“We are here and just like you guys we’re hardworking and here to get our education,” Guzman said.

Many undocumented students live in fear of getting in trouble or in some cases, deported.

“The thing is, you don’t have to live in fear, if you know you’re not doing anything wrong, there is nothing to fear,” Jaramillo said.


Dalee Jung
Staff Writer
Published April 16, 2014