A More Open Door

In January, I presented “A More Open Door: Teaching & Advising Undocumented Students” to faculty and staff at my college. The focus of my presentation was to highlight the unique challenges faced by undocumented students and to advocate for a more supportive college experience. This presentation was the result of my own experiences working with immigration and my desire to raise awareness.

According to the Higher Ed Immigration Portal, roughly 1.5% of North Carolina’s college students are undocumented. If we apply that same percentage to Fayetteville Tech, that would mean we have roughly 400 undocumented students between curriculum and continuing education.

Undocumented students encounter myriad barriers in their pursuit of a college degree or certificate. They often grow up in poverty but have no access to government relief. They’re barred from earning occupational licenses and have no access to state or federal financial aid. One of the greatest hardships an undocumented student may face is that, no matter how long their residency in North Carolina, by law the student must be considered out-of-state for tuition purposes.

These material hardships are exacerbated by the mental and emotional toll of migration and acculturation to a society that is often rhetorically and sometimes physically hostile.

So, when these students enter our classrooms, they come to us with the deck truly stacked against them. Yet they are North Carolinians, members of our community, and expect us to act in good faith toward them.

Much of the above I wrote for a newsletter at the college but I believe it provides a good summary of my presentation. I’m happy to provide access to the full presentation and my works cited upon request.

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