The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

International Affairs offers support for DACA and undocumented students

UPDATED:  7:00a.m. Jan. 31

Students who attended a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) information session on Jan. 30 at Texas A&M University-San Antonio were offered resources and advice on the most pragmatic way to attack an ever-changing political situation.

University officials and experts, however, were quick to confirm that no concrete plan of action could be offered to students, as the deadline for a solution approaches.

In September of 2017 the Trump Administration announced it would end the Obama-era policy and gave Congress until March 5 to come up with a solution.

University officials at San Antonio’s two public universities are actively responding to the needs of undocumented students and “Dreamers.” Today’s meeting on campus comes one week after the University of Texas at San Antonio opened the Dreamers Resource Center for undocumented and D.A.C.A students.

The center is the first of its kind in the Texas, where more than 120,000 people have applied for the program according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Sylvia Medel, director of Student Rights & Responsibilities, said her office is working hard to provide students the support they need.

“As we get closer to March, our office is aggressively looking at resources to put out there and to get the word out to our students, our ‘Dreamers,’ that we’re here and can provide you resources that you may not even be aware of.”

Edith Franco, with the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), spoke to the students and reiterated that there are no absolutes in this volatile situation.

“What we are trying to tell people is to state your reality. We don’t know what the future holds, it’s really uncertain,” Franco said. “Prepare yourself for the worst; not that we want that to happen, but we want people to be really prepared for any type of situation to happen.”

Franco provided direct advice to students navigating uncertainty.

“Try to get an attorney, or at least partner up with someone who is going to help you if something were to happen to you and memorize their number,” Franco advised students. “Because when you memorize someone’s number, that person will be the one who moves the movement forward for you.”

Fewer than 25 students attended the meeting, but those who did were quick to raise their hands when the floor opened for questions. Students asked about legal counsel options, extending work permits, and how to get involved with RAICES.

“The Office of International Affairs continues to be a reckoning force for our DACA students,” Medel said. “I think a lot of our DACA students and undocumented students, they may not realize international affairs is a place for them.”

Priyangana Risal, international student coordinator in the Office of International Affairs, said she hopes to provide students resources during this transitional time.

“Usually when students fall into that situation they don’t know where to go to, they don’t know whom to talk to,” Risal said. “We might not know everything about DACA but we want them to know we are there for them and we will try to help them in every way possible.”

“We just want [them] to know that we are there for them. We just want to help provide resources for them so that they have somewhere to go to,” Risal said.

Armando Padilla contributed to this story.


Resources Provided by The Office of International Affairs:



The Dream U.S.

United We Dream

We Are Here to Stay

About the Author

Jerry Quijano
Jerry Quijano's enthusiasm for storytelling earned him a spot to attend the 2016 Podcast Movement in Chicago where he received instruction on crafting audio stories. He was selected as an alternate for NPR's Next Generation public radio training. Jerry envisions working in public radio in a large market and would like to become a producer on WBEZ’s This American Life. He serves as assistant editor of The Mesquite and producer for "Magnified," a podcast production.

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