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Support for immigrants and undocumented students rang out around Dominican’s campus last week during the Coming Out of the Shadows march and storytelling event.

The April 19 march was hosted by the Undocumented and Immigrant Allyance, a student organization that seeks to create a safe and inclusive space for all immigrant students on campus while also advocating for immigrant rights.

The march drew a group of students, faculty and staff members who chanted words of unity and calls for permanent status for immigrants. Some carried signs reading “We are in this together,” “Spread love, not fear,” and “We will not be divided.”

The group formed a circle of unity in the Quad just prior to the march’s conclusion.

“This march is to show that immigrants aren’t alone and undocumented people aren’t alone,” said Ingrid Bustos, UIA president and a leader of Coming Out of the Shadows. “It’s also important to show Dominican students who are not immigrants or undocumented that they can come together with us because everyone needs a family. This is just one way we show support for everybody else.”

Eddie Rivera, vice president of UIA, said last week’s event was about giving undocumented students a place to be seen and sending them an important message.

“We’re just letting them know they have a safe space here,” he said.

Later, during an evening gathering at Parmer Hall, a small group of students and guest speakers shared personal experiences of living undocumented.

Armando Guerrero Estrada, director of Dominican University’s PASOS Network in University Ministry, attended the march and expressed hope that Coming Out of the Shadows raises more awareness of the challenges facing immigrant students.

“It’s important for the university to listen to the stories of the students on our campus and listen to what their needs are,” he said. “Attending events like this, where students are allowed to share their stories with a larger population, is one way to learn about their struggles, their hopes, and their visions for the institution and for the student body.”

“Our students want to make sure we show we’re welcoming, but also that we’re here to support and provide resources to the students on campus,” added Yessy Hernandez, coordinator of undocumented student support at Dominican.

Coming Out of the Shadows is inspired by an event of the same name coordinated by Chicago’s Immigrant Youth Justice League. The first IYJL march was held in 2010 to support undocumented immigrants and a movement for immigration reform in the U.S.