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April 2012

editors’ note our first edition


freedom to learn 004 history 004 news & activism 006 a story on olivia 007 student q&a 008 culture club

In this special edition of IMMEANS, we focus on the Equal Access to Higher Education policy. Our reasoning for concentrating on this policy is that problems involved with the education are plaguing our newest Americans. The United States was founded with the values of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. For these values to be actually put into action, we felt that we should address how we are treating undocumented immigrants during this time. While they may not yet be official citizens, that does not mean they deserve to be ignored. We can only benefit from a more diverse and educated population. In this issue, there is a history written about the policy, special interviews with immigrants and non-immigrants alike who have to deal with the education system as well as recommendations for books and movies that spotlight the ideas of this policy. Hope you enjoy and feel more informed after reading! Much thanks, Jillian Connick Sarah Rocha Christina Kirkman Naomi Petrovsky



equal access to higher education


Undocumented and Unafraid Pro-immigrant supporters came out to Beacon Hill to advocate the acceptance of the growing immigrant community this late March. The city of Boston is always open to immigrant advocacy groups raising awareness. This April, Massachusetts Immigrant Coalition (MIRA) held Immigrants Day.

TEXT/// NAOMI PETROVSKY The revolutionary H.2109 Bill focuses on the importance of undocumented high school immigrants in Massachusetts receiving a college education at all state schools, except for the University of Massachusetts Law and Medical school, within the state. More specifically, the bill works to make sure that students are granted the same type of scholarships, including in- state tuition fees, as their American peers. However, the applicants must have attended three years of high school and graduated with a diploma. In addition, the student must provide a social security number or “taxpayer identification”. This bill is controversial because it will drastically change the lives of many students within the state. Traditionally, undocumented students must pay two to three times what their peers must pay. This causes severe financial difficulty for the families and many people disregard any academic future that they could have had. Furthermore, financial aid is usually not granted to these students so they have no choice but to pay the full price of their

education. However, many activists believe that this bill will create at least $7.4 million every year. This same group has hope in the success of this law because they have seen similar laws enacted in Connecticut, Rhode Island and New York. This policy is sponsored by Senator Sonia Chang- Diaz, Representatives Alice K. Wolf and Denise Provast and was originally filed on January 20, 2011 and then referred to the Joint Committee on Higher Education four days later. The same day, the senate hearing occurred where the bill was put on hold until the next year. According to Wolf and Provost, this policy is essential to the thousands of undocumented immigrants within the state because it will give them the opportunity to “contribute to their communities and strengthen the local economy. [The] Massachusetts economy is built on our educated workforce. These students can be part of building Massachusetts’s future economic success, if they can get the same affordable education available to their high school classmates.” (Wolf, Provost)

This bill is controversial because it will drastically change the lives of many students within the state.

Photos by Christina Kirkman



open with olivia an immigrant’s story

student session

college students share their thoughts

TEXT/// JILLIAN CONNICK Looking at Olivia SeeSun Ryu, a person would never speculate her of originally being an illegal immigrant. No one would have guessed it took her over ten years for her and her family to get citizenship. Having moved to the United States from South Korea at the young age of four with her parents and little brother, she often felt like a true American despite conflicting views on the subject. “I never saw myself as an ‘illegal’,” she says. “I may originally have been undocumented, but I was never illegal. People cannot be illegal.” Asking for further explanation, she informs me that in school she felt like two

people. One part felt like she was a true American, while the other half questioned that. Despite having very few memories from living in Seoul, she grew up hearing her parents reminisce about the area. “When I was younger, no one suspected anything out of ordinary about me. I got good grades, spoke English fluently. I mean my mom named after Olivia Newton John. Much of my life was Americanized.” Olivia did more than get good grades, she got amazing grades and continued on to graduate from a prestigious university. Now, at 25, she lives in Chicago after have been brought up in a suburb in Ohio. She studies business and hopes to continue with that. She wonders what she would have done without the opportunities presented to her in the United States. Although she and her family hold a deep appreciation and pride for their home country, they can’t help but feel completely American at this point. “I can one hundred percent relate to the immigrants coming into the U.S. today,” she says. She can’t imagine what

it would have been like if she had grown up in Seoul rather than Ohio. Despite this, she would feel shame in her adolescence from being undocumented. “My parents brought us here in the hope that we would become something, but knowing that I was considered an ‘illegal alien’ made me feel wrong for a lack of a better word. It wasn’t up until I finally got citizenship that I felt like I truly belonged in America. Before then, I would sometimes feel less than human.” Comparing her personal story with the many stories of immigrants coming to America today, she feels optimistic. Acts like the DREAM and Equal Access to Higher Education acts make her see things in a brighter light for the future. She hates the idea that being undocumented somehow makes a person lack the same rights as another individual. She wishes that being undocumented was more socially acceptable instead of a dirty secret she was forced to keep in her youth. With these acts, she feels like people may begin to respect immigrants who come here rather than criminalize or punish them. She can’t quite grasp that mentality that people would rather penalize others and deport them when they come into a country to better their lives or their families’. “Why should we put people at a disadvantage for the rest of their lives just because they weren’t lucky enough to be born here?”

Louisa Gorbatov Northeastern University ‘15 Russia Q: Why did you come to the United States? A: “There’s a reason why immigrants are here in America, This places has a land of opportunities that people sacrifice their whole lives for.”

Jake Caine Northeastern University ‘15 South Africa Q: What does education mean to you? A: “An opportunity for an education is an opportunity for life.”

Melissa Martinez Northeastern University ‘14 Guatemala Q: Why do undocumented immigrants deserve a higher education? A: “They’re just as American as you anyone else. Regardless of race and overall appearance, there’s no difference of where we come from. I went to elementary school with the immigrant children, and eventually graduated with them in high school. Why can’t I graduate with them in college?”



Drown: Junot Diaz Join the club and indulge yourself witht theses entertaining pieces media that are directly related to immigration matters! Listen to the beats of Calle 13, where the beats and words stir controversy. Read literature by novelist, Junot Diaz, the man who when asked why he did not italicize his Spanish writing responded, “ Because I do not speak intalics.”

These artists push boundaries by publishing and sharing ideas of strong Hispanic culture in the United States. Singer, Manu Chao, combines his multi-lingual knowledge and overall concern for the global interweaving with all sorts of cultures. This culture club empowers its readers to soak in information and perspectives the media feeds us. Sin Nombre: Cary Joji Fukunaga This movie parallels two incredibly moving stories about the trials and tribulations of undocumented immigration. It begins with Sayra, her father and uncle and their quest to leave their home in Guatemala to New Jersey. Willy is another distinct character who is an infamous gang member from Southern Mexico. The two meet and develop a unique relationship that is significantly affected by immigration, racism and their common goal to grain opportunities in a new country.

This novel is comprised of ten separate stories that are all connected through immigration from the Dominican Republic to urban New Jersey. These accounts of ten young men capture the difficult family life that these people must go through, where their mothers were often inferior to their dominating husbands. Aside from the immigration that these adolescents take, the audience is also able to see how these boys become men and focuses on how they react to their new lives with either success or failure.

“Miedo” Mala Rodriguez Spanish Rapper La Mala Rodriguez confronts people’s fears about immigrants in “Miedo,” meaning “fear.” The lyrics, “Are you scared of people who know how to live without luxuries / are you scared that I could one day hold office?”

The House on Mango Street: Sandra Cisneros

“Clandestino” Manu Chao José-Manuel Thomas Arthur Chao is a French- Spanish singer that normally writes about immigration, love, culture, living in the ghettos, and drugs. In the song, “Clandestino” is about being an 008

undocumented of hiding in the place he’s come to call home. The lyrics are melancholy. He sings: “Alone I go with my sorrows / alone with my burden, to run is my destiny / to outfox the law.”

This novel focuses on a young girl named Esperanza and her predominantly Latino neighborhood of Mango Street. Cisneros brings up several different stories of life in the poverty stricken community and tells the story of how Esperanza and the young children around her have learned from their parents mistakes and strive to become more successful adults. The community faces issues of physical abuse, gang violence and racism and must power through the difficulties around them together.

Calle 13 Residente o Visitante If the reggaeton and alternative rap doesn’t get your attention, the lyrics of “P’al Norte” or “Headed North” by Calle 13 will. The Puerto Rican step brothers stir controversy with lyrics of the trials and tribulations of the journey immigrants take to make it to the United

States. Their Andean music with traditional beats mixed with very opinionated hits of immigration demonstrates to all their listeners and critics that this is duo should not be messed with.

A Better Life: Chris Weitz

This gripping film focuses on the relationship that a father has with his son amid severe issues with their journey into the United States. As Carlos, a recent undocumented immigrant and father to his young son, struggles to find his home in the United States, he is frequently met with tension from Luis, who considers himself prominently American.

La Misma Luna: Patricia Riggen This movie captures the difficult journey of a mother, Rosario, who illegally immigrates into the United States in order to create a more opportune life for her son, Carlitos. She has had no contact with her son for years while he stays in Mexico with his grandmother, aunt and uncle. One day, she meets two “coyotes” who offer to smuggle her son into America. The journey that Carlitos must embark on is heart- wrenching, inspiring and allows the audience to take a clear look into undocumented immigration. 009

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Focus on Boston: Immigration and Public Policy