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Group seeks to make UNM a ‘dream campus’

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque is an “immigrant friendly” city, good news for the Dreamers who up until now have been shielded from deportation by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy.

Now, the University of New Mexico needs to become a “Dream Campus,” according to the New Mexico Dream Team, a statewide network that unites and advocates on behalf of the roughly 8,000 young people in the state who benefit from DACA, as well as immigrant families.

During a Monday rally and news conference in front of the UNM Bookstore, hundreds of people listened to speakers leading a campaign to make UNM a Dream Campus – that is, welcoming and protective of all students, regardless of color, immigrant or refugee status, gender identity or sexual orientation.

“Since the election of Donald Trump, our country has experienced an increase in openly clear attacks against people of color, immigrants, refugees, workers and LGBTQ folks,” said Dream Team field organizer Felipe Rodriguez. “Going even further, the current administration is trampling on students’ ability to thrive in their campuses due to fear of discrimination, enforcement or deportation.”

Among the measures the New Mexico Dream Team wants UNM to implement is the creation of a department dedicated to providing resources for undocumented students, as well as for UNM administration to become active in policy writing and lobbying efforts in support of immigrant, LGBTQ students, students of color and their families.

Rosa Isela Cervantes, director and special adviser to the president on Latino affairs, said at the rally UNM has been “an amazing place where students have been welcome regardless of background, immigration status or skin color.”

Still, she said, “we have a lot of work to do better, to be better.”

UNM student and DACA recipient Dennise Martinez moved from Mexico to a small town in New Mexico when she was 6. Initially, she was “ashamed” of her immigrant status, but in high school she excelled in varsity sports and began taking dual credit courses.

“School became my safe place,” she told the crowd. “When I came to UNM last August and left my small town behind, I started to notice that there were people here like me.”

The DACA program, which provides temporary protection to immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children, was scheduled to be phased out by Trump administration March 5, but those plans have been temporarily blocked by the courts.

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