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Becoming an Ally

The four basic levels of becoming an Ally

  1. Awareness: Gain awareness by opening yourself to the possibility that some of the students in your class or program are undocumented. Attend training sessions on AB 540; go on-line and read about AB 540 and the DREAM Act.
  2. Knowledge: Begin to understand policies, laws, and practices and how they affect the undocumented students. Educate yourself on the many communities of undocumented immigrants.
  3. Skills: Take your awareness and knowledge and communicate it to others. You can acquire these skills by attending workshops, role-playing with friends and peers, and developing support networks.
  4. Action: To effect change that improves undocumented immigrant student success, you must act. This can be as simple as allowing substitutes for paid internships, placements in non-public agencies where a background check is not required, to assisting students by getting to know them so that you can write effective letters of recommendations when they apply for the only financial aid available to them—scholarships.


Five points to remember

  1. Be aware of your own assumptions about the undocumented. AB 540 and other undocumented students are a diverse group who are not individually distinguishable from every other student. Each group has its own cultural tendencies about revealing themselves to others.
  2. It is better to be preemptive than reactive. Indicate in your course requirements that students who need alternative placements should talk privately with you, or openly offer alternatives to all students, including AB 540 students.
  3. If a student reveals that he or she is AB 540, do not interrogate them about their immigration status. Listen attentively. If you do not know how to help them, tell them that you will find out and then get back to that student.
  4. Recognize that some others may be intolerant of the undocumented and that you may be a target as well.
  5. Do not ever give immigration advice, or suggest that one can identify himself or herself as a US citizen, drive without a license, or use false identification.

Retrieved online from: on 9/18/02 and CSULB Safe Zone Becoming an Ally.