Southern Utah University Blog

SUU Student Creates Club for Undocumented Immigrants

Posted: October 17, 2019 | Author: Savannah Byers | Read Time: 2 minutes

Center for diversity and inclusionSouthern Utah University student Nestor Zapata was born to humble beginnings in Tabasco, Mexico before immigrating to San Diego, California at just two-months old. Living under the restrictions of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Zapata has made a goal to create a platform for other undocumented migrants by forming the Undocu Migrant Alliance (UMA) club with the SUU Center for Diversity & Inclusion (CDI)

The UMA serves to support the population of undocumented immigrants at SUU and beyond. The UMA offers a strong support system by providing helpful workshops for students, fundraisers for scholarships, up-to-date information on current events, and education for the public about the reality of being an undocumented immigrant. 

“Our long-term vision is to create equal opportunities for immigrants through the influence of public opinion and the social construct,” Zapata said. “We don’t want to allow legal status to dictate the choices that immigrants make, or to limit them in any way.” 

The UMA has already had success in helping undocumented immigrants at SUU. They recently hosted a workshop where local volunteer attorneys taught students how to fill out and annually send the necessary DACA paperwork without going through an, oftentimes expensive, attorney. 

“A renewal application costs nearly $500 alone,” explained CDI Director Maria Martinez. “Given the high stakes of such an important application, this type of knowledge and information is invaluable.”

Another purpose of the UMA is to connect with other clubs at the CDI and across campus. Later this year, the CDI will participate in the “Reservation Service Project”. The intention of this project is to provide clothing, water, canned foods, and wood to help residents of the Navajo Nation Inscription Chapter House prepare for the winter season. 

“From the beginning of UMA’s formation, Nestor has been determined to connect with and support community members,” said Martinez. “We encourage our clubs to connect with the community as much as possible. It’s important that we give back to the community and share what we can offer.” 

The UMA is comprised of a variety of students with ambitious academic accomplishments. Students in the club are majoring in prestigious fields such as electrical engineering, psychology, and accounting. Several students in the UMA have also made the Dean’s list.

“We are students who want to give back to the community and break the stereotype of who undocumented immigrants are,” Zapata continued. “Regardless of the size of our club, we’re a family here and we want to help each other.” 

This fall 2019 semester, Nestor Zapata will begin his senior year at SUU. He is majoring in Strategic Communications and wishes to continue providing resources and support for undocumented immigrants after graduation. 

The UMA club meetings are every other Thursday at 8:00 p.m. in the CDI. For more information, or to join, email Nestor at undocumentedmigrantalliance@gmail.com or visit the CDI directly.

The CDI exists to validate the multiple identities present on campus, while integrating the voices and experiences of marginalized people. Learn more about the CDI and Undocu/DACAmented Students.

Tags: Center for Diversity and Inclusion

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