‘Undocumented and unafraid’: Undocumented Community Resource Center opens on Berkeley City College campus

Jim Xu/Staff

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Berkeley City College’s Undocumented Community Resource Center, or UCRC, held its grand opening Thursday, revealing a more accessible and student-friendly location.

Founder and coordinator Carolina Martinez began the Undocumented Community Resource Center in 2015 with two other students. UCRC is now located at 2050 Center St., where it is more accessible to students. It has moved on from four cubicles to having its own private office. Additionally, the center was able to hire five students after it was allocated a new budget.

“This is something we were fighting for for a long time,” Martinez said. “Now, we are visible. Now, we can say we are undocumented and unafraid.”

The resource center was initially located inside the annex in front of the YMCA on Allston Way.

“It was hard for students to reach out to the center, and we didn’t have any security there,” Martinez said.

Following the annex location, UCRC was relocated to 2000 Center St. two years ago, where the staff was given four cubicles to use to meet and serve students.

Soon after moving the center, President Donald Trump was elected; during his campaign, Trump pledged to deport approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants. In September of last year, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the administration’s intent to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.

“We thought that it was going to be it,” Martinez said, regarding Trump’s election. “We were at risk.”

The resource center decided to contact Rowena Tomaneng, president of Berkeley City College, or BCC. According to Martinez, Tomaneng, who is an immigrant from the Philippines, is the first president of BCC to take the issues of the undocumented community seriously, and she was able to move the resource center to the main campus.

Mayor Jesse Arreguín congratulated BCC on Twitter for the opening of UCRC’s new location, saying “Immigrants are America and make our country better. #HereToStay.”

The resource center provides legal and health services to undocumented students through its alliances with other organizations. Legal organizations have come to BCC to provide documented screening, to help pay the renewal fee for DACA and to assist in filling out immigration paperwork.

After noting the center’s plans to hold a mental health care summit for students in September of next year, Martinez said the center is trying to encourage people to heal themselves after Trump’s election.

Additionally, UCRC offers an emergency plan to support students with financial aid if they become homeless. There is also a food bank that students may access.

“(The Undocumented Community Resource Center is) for the students to come and (receive) resources, to make them feel like they have a family, to come and hang out with us,” Martinez said.

Contact Alyssa Bernardino at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @alybernardino.