By Steve Nakata, Division of Student Affairs
The demise of DACA protections and the effect on college students will take center stage during Washington State University’s Second Annual UndocuQueer Conference, which is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 14, at the Elson S. Floyd Cultural Center in Pullman. The event will begin with a networking dinner the evening before.
“People usually don’t think of immigration as a queer issue,” said Matthew Jeffries, director of the Gender/Identity Expression and Sexual Orientation Resource Center. But with 14 percent of WSU’s student body identifying as queer, President Donald Trump’s revoking of DACA “could potentially impact a lot of our students.”
Trump decided this fall to end the DACA program, which provided protections against deportation to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.
Civil rights advocate Ray Corona will deliver the keynote address. Corona is a community relations coordinator for Centene Corporation in Seattle. Centene helps under-insured or non-insured people find quality, culturally-sensitive healthcare. His experience includes serving as an advocacy manager for the Latino Community Fund and an admissions recruiter for the University of Washington.
Thought to be the only conference of its kind in the state, UndocuQueer is designed to educate the WSU community and educators from around the region on issues facing today’s undocumented and queer population. Jeffries said the term “queer” refers to the LGBT community.
“This is a great opportunity to examine two distinct populations that share many common issues,” said Marcela Pattinson, assistant director for community relations and outreach in the Office of Multicultural Student Services. “You will be able to learn how to start activist groups, build best practices, and access experts from throughout the state.”
In addition to DACA, the conference will include workshops addressing legal issues that impact the queer population, the roles played by allies, and the historical timelines of immigration as it pertains to the LGBTQ community.
Space at the conference is limited to 150 people and Jeffries urges people to register soon by visiting undocuqeer.wsu.edu. Registration is free for WSU students and is $40 for educators.
“Our state and WSU are considered by many to be at the forefront of addressing these issues,” said Jeffries. “This conference is a great opportunity for us to share with others what we know and are experiencing, as well as learn from others how we can continue to improve our services.”