Resilience and ASLMU Raise $3,000 in Mutual Aid for Undocumented Students

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Resilience and ASLMU Raise $3,000 in Mutual Aid for Undocumented Students
By Christina Martinez

Student immigrant rights activist group Resilience has raised over $3,000 in mutual aid to support undocumented students ineligible for the CARES Act grants distributed by the University.

The Department of Education (DOE) stated that CARES Act funds can only be distributed to students “eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act [HEA] of 1965.” Eligibility depends on citizenship status, which excludes undocumented students. As such, only students with a documented citizenship status were eligible to receive the $300 CARES Act check sent out by LMU on June 16

In partnership with ASLMU, Resilience created the CARES Relief Aid Redistribution & Mutual Aid fund to redistribute funds to documented students excluded from the CARES Act.

Resilience president and senior Desiree Diaz expressed her anger for the current United States government’s treatment of all undocumented individuals during the pandemic, not just students.

“[This administration] is callous, cruel, and practically wicked in the way they’ve treated our immigrants, and I think the pandemic allowed them to be that way unabashedly,” said Diaz.

ASLMU Vice President Elsie Mares was also angered by the Department of Education’s actions. When the CARES Acts grants were distributed, she began to consider what the checks really meant for the LMU Community.

“Many students at LMU come from comfortable backgrounds, and haven’t had their financial situations or employment opportunities impacted by the pandemic,” said Mares. “The same can not be said for many people within the undocumented community.”

Mares, along with former ASLMU Vice President Emily Sinsky and other members of Resilience, created the CARES Relief Aid Redistribution & Mutual Aid Fund. 

Mares said that she sees the fund as an “opportunity for students to engage in economic solidarity and mutual aid by donating their aid directly to a peer.”

Resilience was founded as “LMU’s immigrant rights activism group and support network,” which supports and advocates for immigrants.

Although not an undocumented student herself, Diaz is proud to stand in solidarity with LMU’s undocumented students.

“It’s beautiful, and full of people who inspire me more than words can capture,” Diaz said of LMU’s undocumented student community. “[They] live a reality in this country I couldn’t fathom the weight of, but they keep fighting. They’re the strongest people I know.”

According to Mares, Resilience’s goal is to raise $6,000 so they can give all of LMU’s undocumented students a $300 grant, an amount equivalent to what qualifying students received from the university’s CARES Act payout. Within 48 hours of announcing the fund, they’ve raised over $3,000. 

According to Diaz, all funds raised will be distributed by a trusted LMU faculty member so undocumented students can retrieve their allotment anonymously.

“[It] filled me with so much pride and love for my peers,” Mares said of the fund’s success. “ It is beautiful to see young people sharing their blessings and standing with the undocumented community even in the face of this administration’s consistent displays of xenophobia.”

In the future, Diaz believes LMU should be doing more for undocumented students, and that it should not be the responsibility of students to lead those efforts.

“I do believe LMU cares about our undocumented students, but they don’t exactly follow through on showing it,” Diaz said. “I want them to help organizations like Resilience in educating our students about immigration justice, and I want them to do more than send out emails in solidarity.”

Donations to the CARES Relief Aid Redistribution & Mutual Aid fund can be sent via Venmo to @lmuaid.

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