Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

August 15, 2013


Host: José Cárdenas

DREAMzone


  • ASU offers a new initiative called, "DREAMzone", a certification training designed to establish a support network for undocumented students at Arizona State University. Davier Rodriguez, one of the DREAMzone coordinators, explains how the initiative works.
Guests:
  • Davier Rodriguez - DREAMzone Coordinator, ASU
Category: Education   |   Keywords: ASU, students, initiative,

View Transcript
Josè Càrdenas: ASU offers a new initiative called dream zone. We'll talk to one of the dream zone facilitators in a moment. First we wanted to show you a trailer of a documentary called the dream is now featuring two ASU alumni, putting a face on undocumented children of immigrants who want to earn their citizenship. There was a screening at ASU in Tempe this week.

Documentary Excerpt: Bigger than a website, deeper than a documentary, more powerful than a petition, it's a story about people. Instead of calling them illegals let's call them occupiers or trespassers, invaders, squatters. Same day that I graduated I checked my mail and I had gotten a full scholarship. I get a call from the admissions office, we're really sorry but you can't get your scholarship any more. What am I doing? You can dream all you want, but you're still here. The Dream act is legislation that says you came to the U.S. as a child, we will give you a chance to be legal in America. Growing up I always wanted to be in the military. He's the kind of guy that our military needs. We imagine what it would feel like to be told, you know, congratulations. I could be deported in the spring. Am I going to be able to finish? It's real. I qualify for everything but you can't fill in the space for Social Security. I want to go to college. I want to be a doctor. We the people said I believe the phrase is no way, Jose. They are not going to listen to us we are going to go to them. This really is the future of our country. I'm going to be a marine. This is more than a movie. It's a movement. Upload your photograph. Put a human face to that petition. The time is right. The choice is real. The dream is now.

Josè Càrdenas: Joining me is Davier Rodriguez, one of the DREAMzone coordinators. Welcome to Horizonte. The movie was directed by a famous documentarian. Tell us about it.

Davier Rodriguez: The academy award winner David Guggenheim who did Waiting For Superman, the film just highlights, puts a face to issues surrounding dreamers and children of undocumented immigrants.

Josè Càrdenas: It's a four hour long movie. It highlights two ASU alums --

Davier Rodriguez: These are two students who graduated from ASU and experienced a series of issues, and it narrates their stories in kind of the impact that being undocumented had leading up to coming to ASU as well as during the process of being at ASU including their family and the circumstances with their families.

Josè Càrdenas: Are the circumstances they went through in college in terms of dealing with their status part of what inspired creation of DREAMzone?

Davier Rodriguez: Yes. It's the stories like Erica's and Jose's that inspire ASU faculty staff and students to make a difference on campus.

Josè Càrdenas: Explain what dream zone is.

Davier Rodriguez: It's a four hour certification. Development program that seeks to create visible support structures on campus at ASU. We equip faculty, staff, students and administrators with tools to support this through graduation.

Josè Càrdenas: Was there something in particular that made you think there was a need for this kind of training?

Davier Rodriguez: Yes. Given the lack of support that we have at ASU, there has been some support but as of April of last year we formed the dream research initiative to look at how we more strategically help our students graduate. That was the inspiration, particularly an event last April where we brought dreamers and other figures from California.

Josè Càrdenas: there's basically four components. Tell us about those.

Davier Rodriguez: we talk about the first component is --

Josè Càrdenas: We have pictures on the screen. Are these participants in the program?

Davier Rodriguez: Yes. That's actually the first group of DREAMzone allies that were certified. The four components we started talking about the conceptions, preconceptions and misconceptions that are formed. How do we get our information about who dreamers are and their experiences, then we talk about the different climates including legislation, so federal, state and local policies as well as the home environment which shapes the undocumented experience. We bring a panel of undocumented citizens to share with participants their perspectives and stories to put a first person perspective on what it means to be a dreamer. We conclude talking about best practices as well as we share resource and tools on how to support undocumented students.

Josè Càrdenas: I can understand why the second component which discusses legislation and other legalities might be informative and useful for people participating the first one, though, where you talk about who the dreamers are, you have I assume largely a receptive audience in these classes. Do you find that you're imparting something to these people, staff and faculty, that they didn't already know?

Davier Rodriguez: Yes. A lot of our participants come with some level of knowledge. There's a spectrum. Come with no knowledge, some highly informed already but all walk out understanding better who our undocumented citizens are so it's not just students whose parents came illegally. We have international students with a lot of status. We have people that came legally and then through a series of events they became undocumented.

Josè Càrdenas: Even people sympathetic to the situation have some stereotypes that don't apply necessarily to all the students.

Davier Rodriguez: Stereotypes or lack of knowledge so they walk out understanding who dreamers are but also understanding the context that shapes dreamers including legislation and policies.

Josè Càrdenas: What do they learn in terms of how they can be of further help to dream centers.

Davier Rodriguez: They understand who on campus is an ally so they can reach out. Someone from housing needs to reach out to an academic advisor they understand how that process of referral works. They also understand what are the different financial and academic support systems that are available to them. So they can refer students to apply for a particular scholarship. Then I think the foundation they understand how to be empathetic and how to respond in their body language and in their conversations to be sensitive.
Josè Càrdenas: One of the ways you communicate this information to the people who want to share with others is through your website.

Davier Rodriguez: Yes. Our website is pretty comprehensive. We offer different resources and we also offer a database where every single ally that goes through the certification program is entered, so it builds an ASU ally network.

Josè Càrdenas: If somebody who is a dreamer wants to know who can I talk to they can go to the website.

Davier Rodriguez: Yes.

Josè Càrdenas: What is the address in.

Davier Rodriguez: It's StS.ASU.EDU/dream zone.

Josè Càrdenas: So while you get support this is not an academic project.

Davier Rodriguez: No. It's a comprehensive project through the dreamer research initiative, a committee comprised of faculty, staff, students and community partners that come together and provide support.

Josè Càrdenas: This effort, DREAMzone, you're one of the two founders, coordinators?

Davier Rodriguez: Yes.

Josè Càrdenas: Recently received recognition from President Clinton. Tell us about that.

Davier Rodriguez: We had the honor and opportunity to go to the Clinton global initiative university. We entered dream zone as a commitment or solution. So about solutions are selected every year. Dream zone was selected as one of the final to compete in this march madness basketball-like competition called the bracket challenge. Voters were able to go online and vote for their project and it went through four rounds, so 16, eight, four, two, then the final winner. I was representing DREAMzone at the conference but basically DREAMzone was on stage with Clinton.

Josè Càrdenas: You got to the Final Four and you came home with a trophy.

Davier Rodriguez: Yes. The trophy was symbolically a basketball signed by Stephen Colbert and President Clinton.

Josè Càrdenas: How many people have gone through the program so far?

Davier Rodriguez: Over 300 people have signed up. Some are unable to make it and go to later sessions. To date over 250 ally certified.

Josè Càrdenas: Recently immigration legislation has been introduced. There's a lot of discussion, lots of forms. Has that increased the volume of business for you?

Davier Rodriguez: I think that the short answer is yes. I think the larger answer is collaborative efforts. I think that DREAMzone has helped to steer conversations and excitement as other things have happened nationally, so I think that there is in short there is an interest in wanting to learn more and DREAMzone is that space to learn more about immigration and more importantly how do we help our undocumented citizens succeed on campus.

Josè Càrdenas: Is there any concern that people will look at the legislation, you have bipartisan support at least in the Senate, President Obama this week said he's fairly confident despite other dysfunctionality in Congress that this will pass. Is there any concern that people will have less interest in helping the dreamers thinking it's going to get taken care of so there's no need for me to get involved?

Davier Rodriguez: That's a great point. I don't think so because it's not -- legislation doesn't pass and everything is good to go. There's the implementation piece of policies and that's where if anything it increases excitement. What does this mean locally? The other aspect that's important to consider is that not everyone that's undocumented student is a dreamer. So we have to be understanding that while our dreamers may or may not get a path to citizenship or get work permits we still have groups of people at our university who are still having immigration issues and we have to adapt our program to continue to help these populations navigate the university.

Josè Càrdenas: We're almost out of time. One last thing. On the current proposals any comments, general reaction to what's been proposed as regards dreamers?

Davier Rodriguez: Are you talking about the proposal?

Josè Càrdenas: Immigration legislation.

Davier Rodriguez: I like the fact that it's focused on work and kind of the economic impact that our undocumented populations have. Dreamers stand very much at a critical piece because they are the ones that have the degrees. They are the ones that will be able to advance.

Josè Càrdenas: Over all favorable?

Davier Rodriguez: I think so, yes.

Josè Càrdenas: Thank you for joining us. Good luck with your efforts.

Davier Rodriguez: Thank you.

Josè Càrdenas: That's our show for tonight. I'm Jose Cardenas. Have a good evening.

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