WASHINGTON COUNTY, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland Community College will soon give undocumented students a space — the first of its kind in Oregon — to fulfill their dreams of a post-secondary education.
Through the Oregon Immigrant and Refugee Funders Collaborative, Meyer Memorial Trust awarded PCC Foundation a $50,000 grant to help launch the DREAM Center.
The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors will be within the Multicultural Center at the Rock Creek Campus.
The new center, which is the first at any Oregon community college or university, will provide outreach, education, advocacy and community resources, bilingual materials and funding for urgent and emergency services for undocumented and DACA students and their families.
Last December, the college’s board of directors declared PCC a “sanctuary college,” to aid and protect undocumented students. Afterward, the Rock Creek Multicultural Center worked with college leadership to create a DREAM Center.
The center will also have legal services, assist in facilitating and processing initial DACA applications and renewal applications, provide workshops on student support and conduct academic/career advising sessions.
For 5 years, DACA has given nearly 800,000 young Americans called “DREAMers,” the legal protections they need to work and study in the U.S. despite the immigration status of their parents.
However, PCC said they accelerated the DREAM Center because of recent policy changes by President Donald Trump — which threatened DACA.
Liliana Luna, Rock Creek Campus Multicultural Center coordinator who led the effort, said,
The administration’s actions have triggered unprecedented challenges for our undocumented students. At PCC, we recognize that DREAMer students face unique barriers that require additional mental, emotional and financial support. The new DREAM Center would focus on the empowerment, support and retention of DREAMers and their families.”
The uncertainty of Trump’s policies has been challenging for undocumented students and their families — creating stress over what scholarships they qualify for and whether they can find work to pay for school.
PCC student Antonio said, “The election instilled fear, not just for me, but for my family. It really impacted me mentally, being constantly worried if my parents are going to come home, the need to look after my younger sibling, how to pay the bills and how to fulfill my dream of going to college.”
The PCC Dream Center plans to serve 20 families and 20 students each academic term through the college’s community resource hub.
According to PCC, the center will partner with local community organizations including Adelante Mujeres, the Hillsboro School District, Momentum Alliance, Centro Cultural and the Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.