A Refuge for College ‘Dreamers’ Opens In Portland
Portland, Oregon, isn’t exactly known for its diverse population, but the so-called “whitest city” in America has an institution that is going above and beyond to support its immigrant students. Portland Community College’s new DREAM Center, which opened on January 22, aims to give the recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program a sense of community and hope.
PCC President Mark Mitsui is a staunch supporter of DACA recipients (often called “Dreamers”) and the PCC Board of Directors declared the school a sanctuary for the students, reports Thacher Schmid in the Los Angeles Times.
With 90,000 students and four campuses, PCC is the largest institution of higher education in Oregon, and with DACA’s fate hanging in the balance, Mitsui said the school had an obligation to reach out to Dreamers. “It certainly is consistent with our values, our mission as an institution, and you can even argue that it is embedded within the historic mission of community colleges,” he said.
The center offers a host of services, from legal assistance to academic counseling. But perhaps most importantly, it gives students a sense of hope.
“It was just nice to see people that looked like me,” Ignacio Garcia said of his first visit. “I didn’t have to explain what DACA was. I didn’t have to explain my struggle, because they already knew, because they’ve gone through it. And that was like the [first] moment when I felt like I belonged to PCC, like I mattered.”