Three months after the Trump Administration elected to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and days after congressional inability to resolve funding for the program resulted in a government shutdown, the undocumented population at Seattle University still struggles to find support on campus.
Seattle U, which issued several statements in past months detailing their support for undocumented students, has made multiple attempts to aid DACA recipients. However, many students feel these gestures have fallen short.
Senior Criminal Justice Major David Morales-Rosales
Senior criminal justice major David Morales-Rosales has spoken out on many occasions about ways in which the university fails to adequately support its undocumented students. He emphasized the importance of understanding the needs of the community in question.
“When you try to impose your ideas on something that you have absolutely no idea about, it’s really not going to work out,” he said. “And in the end, it’s not going to help the individuals that you were really trying to help.”
As the final DACA deadline approached, the university offered financial assistance to students renewing their status. However, applications were due within days of the offer, and many students were unable to accept assistance as they had already submitted their application or no longer had enough time to complete a new one.
“SU in general tries to do a really good job about being morally supportive,” Morales-Rosales said. “But [they’re] not so supportive in the means of offering students who are affected resources.”
Jorge Lara Alvarado, a junior civil engineering major founded the Scarlet Group, a student led support group for undocumented students, earlier this academic year. Through conversations with other members, Lara Alvarado has noticed a similar theme.
“For whatever reason, [Seattle U is] not giving it priority, and they’re not understanding how much it affects our lives on a daily basis,”he said.“They expect us to be successful and they expect us to thrive but it’s always hard to find out what is actually available to us.”
There are many resources at Seattle U that students utilize daily. However, resources that many see as essential to campus life are ill equipped to serve those with undocumented status.
“I know that the school offers trainings for sexual harassment and their policies are very strict,” Lara Alvarado said. “At the same time, are they prepared to understand that a person who is undocumented may feel hesitant to report something like that?”
Senior Criminal Justice Major David Morales-Rosales and junior civil engineering major Jorge Lara Alvarado.
It isn’t just that undocumented students are seeing a gap in resources that can assist them, but that the majority of general resources on campus, including many faculty and staff members, are not familiar with how best to assist those with undocumented status.
Another student, who has asked to remain anonymous to maintain confidentiality of their status, said that with current resources they are continually being shuffled around, and are eventually left on their own to figure things out.
It’s difficult for every student at Seattle U to navigate the ins and outs of undergraduate life, but most students are able to access the university’s resources with ease. Students with undocumented status are dealing with enough added stress that many have chosen to withdraw their enrollment at Seattle U.
“It’s not like we don’t have enough resources to go around,” Morales- Rosales said. “It’s a fact of political movement of picking and choosing which ones are going to get the most media coverage and are going to make the school or the government or whoever it is look good.”
Students with undocumented status are struggling with the uncertainty of their futures, the stress of which is exacerbated by inadequate university resources. Many have lived in the U.S. since they were children, and continue to be pressured to prove that they belong here.
“Some individuals don’t understand that I’m just as American, or if not more American than they are,” Morales-Rosales said. “I was raised here and had to earn every minute of every day being here.”
While a center created to aid undocumented students would absolutely be beneficial, the majority of Seattle U’s administration, faculty, staff and students underestimate the impact that their efforts can make. A large amount of stress that undocumented students face comes from disclosing their status and catching people up on information.
Becoming educated on the needs of this population is a huge first step to take, and one that would bring every individual on campus closer to aiding in the creation of a just and humane world.
Rachel may be reached at