Last year, more than 200 guests from throughout the Portland metro area packed into a conference room at Portland Community College's Rock Creek campus on an early October morning for the first-ever DREAMers breakfast.
This year, the event, which helps raise support and scholarship money for undocumented students and recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, is moving online due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The event is from 8 to 9 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 20. It will take place on Zoom and feature stories from undocumented and DACA students, as well as comments from PCC officials.
The event raised more than $36,000 last year, PCC said.
Although the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Trump administration's attempts to end DACA this summer, advocates for undocumented students say the fundraiser is even more important this year, as such students are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of the pandemic.
Luz Maciel Villarroel, coordinator of the DREAMers Resource Center at PCC Rock Creek, said she has been humbled by undocumented students' resilience and continued determination to get an education during the pandemic.
DREAMers refers to DACA recipients. The DREAMers Resource Center — the first of its kind in the state — continues to serve as a support hub for students of any immigration status at a remotely this year.
"The students I work with and their families are far more likely to contract COVID-19 and be hospitalized other people," Villaroel said, adding that data show undocumented people work in the agricultural and service industries, which have been hit hard by the pandemic.
"Within two weeks, three families notified me that a family member was either really sick or had already died," she said.
Additionally, undocumented students and their families haven't been able to receive federal assistance funding from governments during the pandemic because of their immigration status, she said. They already cannot receive federal financial aid for their education.
Villaroel said she and other advocates at the college have been working for months with groups and foundations around the state to find support for undocumented students so they can continue working toward degrees this year and in the future.
"These students are so committed to bettering their lives and bettering the United States," Villaroel said. "If they better their lives, they better all of our lives."
Attendance for this year's event is free and open to supporters. Registration is available at pcc.edu/dreamers, or by calling 971-722-4382.
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