NEIU receives grant for DACA podcast

Amaris E. Rodriguez, Opinions Editor

NEIU was awarded a $35,000 microgrant from the 2018 Challenged Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education on Aug. 8. With the money, NEIU launched a seven-part podcast focusing on immigration and undocumented students in the Chicago area called, “DACAmentation.”

DACAmentation: Journalism by Dreamers for Dreamers” is a new podcast series on Spanish Public Radio (SPR) organized in collaboration with NEIU that aims to showcase stories of undocumented students under DACA. Along with podcasts, there will be two town hall meetings, the first being on Tuesday, Nov. 20.

The first episode of “DACAmentation” aired live on Oct. 26, where Director of Undocumented Student Resources Luvia Moreno gave a DACA 101 crash course. The podcast’s moderator Monzerrath Gayton, along with Moreno, offered a history lesson of the Undocumented Resilient and Organized (URO) student club at NEIU.

“In our university we didn’t have any scholarships available for undocumented students,” Moreno said on air. “We changed the process of our application, where now students can choose to say they are undocumented or leave the box unchecked and we can get in touch with them to assist them. We also created scholarships specifically for undocumented students.”

In the interview, Moreno credits URO and student involvement for NEIU creating a position for a Director of Undocumented Student Resources. Moreno said NEIU was the first public university to create this position, and recently the University of Illinois in Chicago (UIC) created a similar position.

“Little by little the universities and community colleges are realizing that it is important to have someone to help students and guide them,” Moreno said.

Moreno said a positive change that occured since URO’s initiation was the “ally training” NEIU faculty can now receive.  

The podcast episode covered the controversial term “Dreamers,” which is often used to refer to young undocumented individuals, primarily students.

“We are hearing from individuals who don’t like the term ‘Dreamers’ because they haven’t been just dreamers, they are people who have done things, who have fought a lot, who are active, not passive in their actions,” Moreno said.

“The term ‘Dreamers’ is used in politics on television and a lot of what they say is that the ‘Dreamers’ aren’t at fault of being in this country. That they are good, the perfect students and that we should help them.

“While that might be the reality, many feel that by placing undocumented students on a pedestal all the blame is placed on the parents of these students. They want us to move away from calling them ‘Dreamers’ and refer to them as undocumented students to not criminalize their parents,” Moreno said.

In the first episode, Moreno talked about issues that undocumented students face such as struggling with depression, overworking to meet the ideal of ‘a perfect undocumented student’ and fearing the future of DACA.

The “DACAmendation” series will air a new episode the last Friday of each month. The audience will be exposed to different stories on undocumented individuals and the issues they face including LGBTQ+ DACA recipients, high school guidance counseling and mental health.

The second episode of “DACAmentation” will air on SPR on Friday Nov. 30.

The 2018 Challenged Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education funds are awarded to universities by The Online News Association, the world’s largest association of digital journalism, to help them partner with local media sources and organizations to find new ways of providing information to their communities. NEIU was one of ten universities to receive this microgrant.

The Nov. 20 town hall meeting is open to the public with the agenda of discussing educational opportunities for dreamers and undocumented students.