OU student to promote citizenship for undocumented students
Kingsley Burns, The Oklahoma Daily
A student is looking to build an alliance of student organizations to help undocumented students work toward citizenship.
Public relations junior Tracey Medina — who cofounded DREAM Act Oklahoma while attending Tulsa Community College — is bringing a DREAM Act chapter to Norman this fall.
The national act — which was first introduced in the U.S. Senate in2001 — is immigration reform that would allow undocumented students to qualify for state residency higher education purposes and ultimately provide them a path to citizenship.
Medina, who transferred to OU from Tulsa Community College this fall, hopes DREAM Act Norman will help encourage undocumented students at OU to be open about their status, she said.
“The goal is to expand and to recruit members and to be able to find those students here who are in the shadows and undocumented,” Medina said. “I know there are two undocumented students here who are seniors, so I think them coming out as undocumented will make a huge difference, because no one knows.”
DREAM Act Norman will collaborate with OU’s Hispanic American Student Association, but Medina says she hopes to see the group expand beyond Hispanics.
“We want to advocate on all levels and with every culture to keep it diverse,” Medina said. “I definitely want to expand it out of the Hispanic student association.”
DREAM Act Norman will focus this year on encouraging undocumented students to apply for deferred action once they graduate, Medina said. President Barack Obama’s deferred-action program — which was announced this June — allows a certain group of illegal immigrants to apply for a work permit and a driver’s license.
Once these students apply, it should take anywhere from 60-90 days to get their applications approved, Medina said.
Medina said she is excited for the DREAM Act Norman branch because the university is willing to support the group.
“I don’t think it will be as difficult as it was in Tulsa,” Medina said.
Tulsa Community College didn’t approve of the DREAM Act and wouldn’t allow the group to have meetings or advocate at the school, she said.
University of Tulsa senior Kasey Hughart, who also cofounded DREAM Act Oklahoma and attended Tulsa Community College, agreed that the college was not comfortable with the group because it was politically active.
“We were able to promote our events, but we weren’t really allowed to have events on campus because we didn’t want to jeopardize our relationship with the school,” Hughart said.
Hughart and Medina already have founded a DREAM Act branch in Oklahoma City with members from Oklahoma City University, Oklahoma State University and other schools, but Medina wanted to start a group specifically for OU, she said.
“The idea is to have DREAM Act Oklahoma as the platform and branch out to other cities and schools,” Medina said.
Medina and Hughart have been working together for the past three years advocating for DREAM Act, Hughart said. Although she admits it has been hard without Medina in Tulsa, she is excited to see what will come out of Medina’s work in Norman.
“I’m really happy it was the two of us who built the structure [of the DREAM Act] on the local and the national level,” Hughart said. “She’s a very strong leader, and she’s very good at recruiting new people and keeping that momentum going,” Hughart said.
DREAM Act Norman meetings will start some time in September, once the members collaborate with one another’s schedules, Medina said.
After graduation, Medina said she hopes to work for a nonprofit and work with the United We Dream network, a network of youth-led immigrant organizations around the country, according to its website.
“I’m definitely excited [to be in Norman],” Medina said. “It’s a new experience leaving Tulsa, and I know that community so well to start all over again here. I’m excited though.”