For undocumented and DACA students at Cornell, “being undocumented does not turn off when [students] get to Ithaca,” according to Kevin Graham, the assistant director for undocumented/DACA student support. Aside from documentation issues, the students could also face challenges such as financial aid and work study.
To help them navigate these issues, Cornell DREAM Team, joined by some Cornell students, staff and faculty, hosted a training session for undocumented students and those part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program on Tuesday afternoon.
The presenters — including Graham, Prof. Jaclyn Kelley-Widmer, law, Amanda Wong, a 3rd year student at Cornell Law and Amadou Fofana, the residence hall director for Court-Kay-Bauer Hall — introduced the students to the relevant vocabulary and local legislations relevant to their status through a series of interactive questions.
In response to the current political climate and discourse surrounding the topic of immigration, Graham seemed optimistic in an interview with The Sun after the event.
“I’ve felt more support than anything else,” he said. “I have felt nothing but resounding support to continue the work that I’m doing.”
“It’s a fantastic cohort of students and they represent a broad demographic and cultural region,” Graham said about the undocumented and DACA student population at Cornell. “That means not making any assumptions.”
Graham declined to comment on how many students at Cornell were undocumented due to the sensitive nature of the topic.
Attendees were also given folders containing resources at Cornell for undocumented students. These resources include the Cornell Law School, which assists students with paperwork for their DACA renewals and provides pro-bono legal guidance.
Other resources are Cornell Health and Residential Life, which undocumented and DACA students can reach out to for mental health support.
In fact, when U.S Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivered his remarks on September 5, 2017 to rescind DACA, Cornell Financial Aid created an “emergency renewal fund,” granting DACA students $495 to pay the DACA renewal application fee, according to Graham.
“What happens at the national level provides an opportunity for the institution to step in and say the motto and core here which is any student any subject,” Graham said.
However, he was quick to mention that “being undocumented does not turn off when (students) get to Ithaca and Tompkins county. So many of them, if not all, of the real world implications are still in place.”