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Undocumented Mills College students struggle to find work on campus

Undocumented students at Mills often face uncertainty while looking for employment on campus.

Undocumented students, with or without Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, are unable to receive federal work study, which limits their employment options on campus. The solutions proposed for some of those students are positions that offer stipends as opposed to federal work study jobs.

The Mills website does not provide any information on the employment opportunities for undocumented students under the DREAM Act or AB540.

This solution is not proving adequate for students. One student, who asked to remain anonymous, says that as an undocumented student, the institution is not offering undocumented students enough stipend positions that will be rewarding. Upon speaking to various offices she has yet to find a solution for herself.

“It was said that their would be opportunities for work,” she said. “I brought it up to her [Ines Barbosa] and she said she would get back to me and she never has.”

Professor of Education Pedro Nava, co-chair of the Latinx Task Force, is part of an effort to increase support services available for Latinx students, both documented and undocumented.

“[We are] thinking hard about what ways we can provide support and guidance to the administration in order to better support students,” Nava said.

The efforts of the Latinx Task Force will be over the course of time, and do not propose an immediate solution for this issue.

“The challenge is around federal law,” Nava said. “That is a severe limitation.”

DACA and AB540 provide a framework for institutions to support their students, as opposed to other states without those laws, but they still have their own limitations.

The Latinx Task Force was created last year as Mills became a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI), but there have been little public announcements on who the Latinx Task Force is and what they will be doing this year. This past spring, three members of the task force visited the Education Leadership Foundation and the Dream Resource Center in Fresno, which has a record of supporting undocumented students. The members compiled ideas and strategies for how they may be adapted to serve students at Mills. Last year, President Hillman said support for undocumented students would be included in the agenda for the Latinx Task Force.

It is unclear where undocumented students should go to look for their employment options. The Career Connections and Community Engagement office has resources for students to find jobs and internships. Their page on the Mills website advocates for the use of Handshake to find employment opportunities, and the office also provides opportunities to work with a career counselor.

Unlike neighboring schools, Mills does not have a “dream center,” or a resource center specifically for undocumented students. UC Berkeley has the Undocumented Student Program, which provides academic, legal and mental health support.

Although Mills has a partnership with UC Berkeley, these resources are only available for Berkeley undergraduate students. The Center for Leadership, Equity, and Excellence provides limited legal resources, but does not specify on the Mills website.

Ines Barbosa, associate director of Career Communications and Community Engagement, supports students by reviewing resumes and guiding students toward internship and job opportunities.

“All students need valid work authorization to be employed on campus which for undocumented students means they need to be DACA approved,” Barbosa said.

The only solution presented by her office for undocumented students is to “apply for the California Dream Act to access California state funds to support their Mills education.”