UnDocuWeek channels support for DREAMers

Newswire photo by Sydney Sanders | UnDocuWeek is represented by a monarch butterfly, which is a symbol for migration and support for immigrants. 

While walking around the Yard this week, students might have taken notice of banners depicting monarch butterflies, the kind that might bring back fond memories of third-grade science class. Though these bright banners may serve as a welcome relief from the dreary weather, their purpose flies past brightening up the gray day. This week, the butterflies are on full display for UnDocuWeek, which is dedicated to raising awareness about and advocacy for undocumented immigrants.

UnDocuWeek is the result of collaboration among several different clubs and offices around campus, including VOS and the Student Government Association (SGA), and reflects similar efforts that other Jesuit universities nationwide are sponsoring.

One of the events that SGA is helping coordinate is a letter-writing campaign, which involves signing letters addressed to Senator Rob Portman. These letters support the DREAM Act or similar legislation that provides pathways to citizenship for immigrant youth. Xavier’s letter-writing campaign is part of the larger statewide “10,000 Letters Campaign” that encompasses dioceses throughout Ohio.  The goal is 1,000 letters, but after Monday, more than 500 letters had been signed.

The monarch butterfly, which migrates south to Mexico from places as far as Canada, is a symbol for migrants, who highlight the butterfly’s ability to migrate freely across borders, according to senior Michael McGrath, who serves as the president for VOS.

“As a country, we have an immigration history that has privileged us, and we want to celebrate that and recognize that migration is a beautiful thing, and that’s what we want people to get out of the week,” McGrath said. “We hope that the week first and foremost raises consciousness to undocumented realities and also advocates a clean DREAM Act that doesn’t attempt to break apart families.”

In addition to the butterflies, each banner displays the hashtag “#DreamBigger,” which McGrath explains is a way to highlight the situations that undocumented immigrants face.

“Really, one of the reasons we wanted to use a hashtag is people need to realize undocumented realities are pretty extensive,” McGrath said. “Right now, it’s 11.3 million people in the country who are undocumented, and DACA will only help 300,000 of those people. So that is an additional 10.5 million people who are still without pathways to citizenship. You have people who have been living decades in this country and people who have only known this country most of their lives and are facing the very real possibility of deportation.”

Tuesday featured an Immigration Checkpoint Simulation. A mock fence was set up, and students volunteered to don neon orange vests and act as agents who would ask students to display their ALL Cards. Students who participated were given a small handout with information about checkpoints and border patrols.

Thursday and Friday will feature a phone-a-thon, an event senior Aimée Boivin looks forward to because of her previous experience making phone calls for other campaigns. The letter-writing campaign continues throughout the entire week, with tables in the Fenwick atrium and in the Gallagher Student Center.

Ultimately, SGA President Zeina Farhat and junior Ryan Spolar hope that students will gain a greater understanding of the issue as well as draw on Xavier’s Jesuit heritage in taking a stance on the issue of undocumented immigrants.

“I hope that this puts a face to it, whether the people working are undocumented or not,” Spolar said. “Being at a Catholic school, you have a duty to support your fellow brothers and sisters, whether they believe in the religion that you do or not.”

By: Ellen Siefke ~Managing Editor~