By Diego Loera
Through poetry and monologues, Students Informing Now (SIN) portrayed the experiences of undocumented students, and students whose family members are affected by immigration policies. Their aim for the show, held April 4 and 5 at the Porter Dining Hall, was to lend voice to many people who have often preferred to remain silent about the obstacles they go through in life.
The SIN members, known as SINistas, acted scenes out of their own lives that showed the hardships found in the lives of young people who are affected by immigration policies. Throughout the show, they educated the audience about Assembly Bill 540 (AB540) using PowerPoint slides that displayed information regarding the requirements people under this bill must fulfill.
The bill would exempt students from paying out-of-state fees. It would affect U.S. citizens, legal residents and undocumented immigrants. However, it would not provide for undocumented students to receive financial aid. Inability to pay high tuition costs forces many undocumented immigrants to abandon the idea of going to college.
Alma Sifuentes is the associate vice chancellor and dean of students for UC Santa Cruz.
“Undocumented students who go to a UC do not receive financial aid,” Sifuentes said. “That’s why it’s harder for them to continue studying at a university when they have to depend on money from private scholarships or from family members.”
As an employee at the office of financial aid, Liz Martin Garcia has dealt with undocumented students, and has seen firsthand the effect money has in the pursuit of students’ college aspirations.
“These students have the grades to compete with any U.S. citizen student,” Garcia said. “It’s a shame they can’t stay for longer periods of time just because they can’t afford school.”
Although money is a tangible obstacle facing undocumented students in their journey towards higher education, they also struggle against the label “illegal.”
Lily Pinedo, program coordinator at the Chicano Resource Center, helps spread awareness on events revolving immigration and cultural tolerance.
“Illegal?” Pinedo said. “You mean ‘undocumented,’ right?”
Pinedo explained that the label “illegal alien” defines undocumented immigrants entirely by their legal status, and undermines their humanity in doing so.
Legality and labels are just some of the topics SIN and related groups address. They seek to inform the public about these issues and provide ways for individuals to work for positive change.
SIN’s slogan for the event represents the attitude they want undocumented students to have about themselves and their right to education: “Voces Sin Verguenza,” which means “voices without shame.”