The entrance to the Dreamer’s Resource Center. Courtesy of Heather Montoya/The Paisano

UTSA’s Dreamer’s Resource Center, housed within the Student Center of Community Engagement and Inclusion (SCCEI), began operation Jan. 22. The center is part of one of President Taylor Eighmy’s priority initiatives.

Emmanuel Quiroz, a senior communication major, who was a member of the committee that proposed the Dreamer’s Center, said the momentum started with a small group of immigrants meeting in an apartment.

“I remember people were just fearful of saying ‘I’m a DACA student’ or ‘I’m an undocumented student,’ so it was more of a secretive thing and it made me sad, but it also ignited a fire in me,” Quiroz said.

The group of students started the Immigrant Youth Leadership organization, to support other undocumented students and those affected by social injustices.

“Once President Trump was elected, we knew his spoken views on DACA, so we were preparing,” Lydia Bueno, assistant dean of students and director of the SCCEI and the Student Leadership Center (SLC), said.

When DACA was rescinded last year on Sept. 5, a Dreamer’s 101 training was held soon after to inform the campus community about DACA.

Due to President Trump’s injunction, Eighmy moved up the opening of the center to ensure eligible students could renew their DACA status.

Quiroz finds President Eighmy’s support meaningful.

“With President Eighmy, he seemed to really care for us and to really want to make a stand for minorities and those who are being shut down and quieted down.”

The center has received mostly positive feedback from students, alumni and the San Antonio community. “There have been some negative comments. But out of every 100 comments we get, one is negative,” Bueno said.

 

The center provides the same services that are available to UTSA students. “We’re streamlining [the services] here so it’s a one-stop shop for students as well as having more of that nuanced information that might be more relevant to them,” Courtney Balderas-Jacob, the assistant director of the International Student Services and current interim program manager, said.

“We understand that DACA (standards) and Dreamers might not know what questions to ask, so our main point is, walk in the door; we are going to point you in the right direction whether it’s going to the registrar, whether it’s going to academic advising, maybe it’s going to counseling services,” Bueno said.

One of the goals of the center is to have a more formal partnership with the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) to provide legal services to students.

“In a worse case scenario for DACA students, they are still able to attend college, an education is still a right they have because of Texas House Bill 1403, the students that graduate from high school here are eligible for in-state tuition and are able to attend like any other student,” Balderas-Jacob said.

The center is looking to hire a permanent program manager, who will be responsible for managing the center and ensuring that their initiatives move forward.

“We already have a very strong pool of applicants, and we’ll be moving forward as quickly, but as diligently, as possible. We want to make sure that we identify the candidate who is the best fit,” Balderas-Jacob said.

One of Quiroz’s goals is to establish a strong support system.

“I am already on my way out, but I wanted to make sure that before I left that there is a legacy that stays behind and a support system,” Quiroz said.

For more information or to receive services, students may contact the Dreamer’s Resource Center through email at dreamers@utsa.edu, by phone at 210-458-7777 or visit the center at the SCCEI office, 2.01.04 in the Student Union.

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