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Undocumented students find acceptance in student organization

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Texas State students held a silent demonstration on the steps of Alkek Library Sept. 5 in response to Trump's decision to rescind DACA.
Photo by Lara Dietrich

Undocumented students founded an organization of their own on campus, which they now lean on for support in the current political climate.

The Student Community of Progressive Empowerment originated at Texas State in 2015 with the mission as a “safe space that protects students from being mistreated because of their undocumented or DACAmented status,” according to its website. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, protects young undocumented immigrants from deportation.

Isabel Esparza, English sophmore and president of SCOPE, said she identifies herself as an ally, a person who is a legally documented citizen interested in aiding those who are undocumented. Helping her is Yunuen Alvarado, journalism sophomore and vice president. Alvarado is an undocumented immigrant.

“It’s a good place to be in this current political climate, because growing up undocumented, I remember feeling really alone,” Alvarado said. “So having an organization like SCOPE with other members going through similar things, or maybe their family members are going through similar things, it’s really comforting because you build a sense of community.”

Alvarado said the membership process can be intimidating to some students. SCOPE does what it can do to protect members’ safety and privacy, such as posting meeting times and dates, but not locations. The organization is not limited to immigrants. Students who are documented or natural-born citizens are welcome to join as supportive allies and SCOPE members.

Esparza said SCOPE’s main function is to meet and share stories. Members have discussed issues of undocumented veterans, deportation and daily life on campus. Primarily, the organization meets to provide a home away from home for members to relate to each other.

“We provide information that undocumented people need, and resources for allies on how they can help,” Esparza said.

Esparza grew up in Fort Worth, in what she calls a predominantly white neighborhood. Esparza said she felt a culture shock when moving to San Marcos. She felt more in touch with her Latina roots at a Hispanic Serving Institution and joined SCOPE to give back to undocumented individuals who have always been there for her growing up.

“I joined because there are immigrants in my family. A lot of my friends are immigrants,” Esparza said. “It’s just a cause I’ve always been passionate about.”

Esparza said her time at Texas State holds a deeper meaning being a part of SCOPE. Esparza found her time as a general member informative, and her recent promotion to president humbling.

Currently, SCOPE accepts any and all students to join, attend workshops and meetings and share their stories. However, since the rescinding of DACA, SCOPE is not taking further media requests and is holding any and all events with higher security to protect the privacy of its members.

“We want to make sure immigrants know their rights and know that if they are pulled over, there are things they can do to protect themselves,” Esparza said.

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