Taking a bold step to more fully realize the university’s mission, LMU is establishing a Dream Center to support and serve current undocumented and DACAmented students and their families.
Young people impacted by the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program are often referred to as “Dreamers” because of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act. The DREAM Act, which has failed to pass Congress, would provide a pathway to U.S. citizenship to certain undocumented youth who go to college and/or serve in the military while maintaining a good record.
The LMU Dream Center, slated to open in fall 2023, will provide a physical space and dedicated staff to support undocumented undergraduate and graduate students. The center is a partnership between Academic Affairs and Student Affairs and is the result of recommendations from the Undocumented Student Support Working Group, which was convened by President Timothy Law Snyder, Ph.D., in 2021. The working group was co-led by Terri Mangione, Ph.D., vice president for Student Affairs and dean of students, and Professor William Perez, Ph.D., and included LMU faculty members Cecilia González-Andrieu, Allen Deck, S.J., Jennifer Abe, and former staff members Natalie Guevara and Amie Gonzalez.
Grassroots efforts by students, faculty, and staff to support undocumented and mixed-status students and their families, including student groups such as MEChA, Resilience, the Latinx Student Union, the Black Student Union, and more have connected undocumented or DACAmented LMU students with on and off campus support. The Loyola Immigrant Justice Clinic at LMU Loyola Law School has provided representation to undocumented LMU students and their families, often when they are unable to obtain immigration legal services elsewhere.
“LMU’s commitment demonstrates that Catholic and private institutions need to support their undocumented students beyond tuition assistance and ad hoc guidance,” said Perez. “Dream Centers are visible support structures that help students feel welcomed and supported, and form a community among peers, faculty, and staff with similar lived experiences to develop a sense of empowerment to self-advocate throughout their undergraduate and graduate studies.”
The LMU Dream Center will provide a safe and welcoming space for undocumented students and will partner with existing offices at LMU to provide academic, legal, financial, career development, cultural, counseling, and language support.
“Undocumented and DACAmented students have long called LMU home but face unique challenges due to their or their family’s immigration status,” said Thomas Poon, executive vice president and provost. “The Dream Center reinforces our affirmation that Dreamers belong at LMU.”