By Samantha Bartholomew
Immigration attorney Rosa Elena Sahagun came to Riverside City College Sept. 28 to discuss the next steps of recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
Within minutes of beginning her presentation, Sahagun stated that if DACA recipients miss the Oct. 5 deadline for renewal, the chances of them gaining renewal is impossible.
“The Trump administration is taking a hard stance on immigration,” Sahagun said. “No delayed applications will be accepted.”
“The common feeling I see among the DACA community is feeling like they shouldn’t stay in school,” Sahagun said.
Sahagun is no stranger to the hardships that come with immigrating to the United States.
After becoming a citizen as a young child through the amnesty program in the 1980s, Sahagun’s family struggled to survive in their new environment, with her father having to work in restaurants, fields and landscapes to make ends meet with his elementary school education.
When she became pregnant with her son at a young age, Sahagun attended Chapman University, graduating with honors as one of the few minority students in her class before earning her doctorate at Chapman University School of Law and beginning her law practice in 2002.
“I do not take excuses for not pursuing your education easily,” Sahagun said.
Sahagun told attendees that if they were able to receive benefits from AB 540 that they should continue to apply for that assistance.
AB 540 is a bill that allows undocumented students who meet certain requirements to pay in-state tuition instead of out-of-state tuition in California’s higher institutions, such as the University of California, California State Universities and California Community Colleges.
“Do not assume that applying for AB 540 help will hurt your immigration future in the long run,” Sahagun said.
Sahagun encouraged attendees against opening the door for anyone that they suspected could be members of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, better known as ICE.
“Do not grant them entrance to your home,” Sahagun said. “Once you open your door, you are granting them permission to enter and search your home.”
Sahagun also referenced a statement from RCCD’s police department that stated that none of their officers would cooperate with and provide aide to ICE officials should they come to deport students.
A major theme of Sahagun’s presentation was about people protecting themselves from immigration fraud after seeing so many of her clients scammed by notaries and paralegals.
In attendance were many RCCD staff and faculty members, including Moreno Valley counselor Sal Soto, RCC’s Vice President of Student Services FeRita Carter, that came with the intention of learning how to best guide their students during this time of uncertainty.
“We will support our students,” Soto said.
This is a sentiment that has been reiterated throughout the Riverside Community College District with the administration continuously stating the colleges’ commitment to supporting all students and maintaining welcoming and safe educational environments.
“I assure you that we will continue to ceaselessly advocate for our students and for a legislative solution that protects our students,” Chancellor Michael Burke said in a statement released to students, staff and faculty Sept. 5.
Sahagun will be offering students free consultation at her law offices in Riverside and Indio.