WILLIMANTIC, Conn. (WTNH) — Because undocumented students aren’t required to disclose their status when they apply to college there’s no exact numbers on how many DACA students are at Eastern Connecticut State University. However, the school has been very welcoming to those students and it’s come from the top.
“They came when they were little. They speak fluent English. They are American people,” a passionate plea from ECSU president Dr. Elsa Nunez at a rally back in September.
“The best we can do at Eastern I think is to make sure that they understand that they are liberally educated,” Dr. Nunez told News 8 Monday. “That means that they can think critically, they an write well, they can speak clearly, and that they can advocate for themselves.”
Laura Pineros is doing just that.
“I’m a criminology and sociology major with a minor in pre-law,” sain Pineros who is now a sophomore at Eastern.
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She is among the more than 100 DACA students at the school which is among the Connecticut state colleges and universities along with UConn which have joined a national lawsuit against the Trump Administration’s plan to end the Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals Program. DACA was designed to shield young undocumented students from deportation.
In Pineros’ home state of South Carolina she says she cannot attend a state college. She was brought to America from Columbia when she was 18 months old.
“It was my parents’ decision to better my future,” said Pineros.
But come April first her future could be in jeopardy if congress doesn’t restore the DACA program. Some believe since the students are illegal they should not be allowed to stay.
“Look at our stories,” said Pineros. “Look at where we come from and how far we’ve achieved so far and just don’t yank it out of our dreams.”
“It would make things a lot a lot a lot much more tougher because of the constant fear not only for me but for my family,” said Daniela Iniestra who is also a sophomore at Eastern.
She was brought to America from Mexico when she was 6 years old.”We want to contribute we want to do things the right way but until legislation can do something about it we’re kind of stuck.”