Feature Photo: Kent Wong, UCLA professor and activist

Oliver Bok, Editor in Chief

Kent Wong, professor at University of California, Los Angeles and director of the Center for Labor Research and Education, gave a talk at the College yesterday titled “Undocumented and Unafraid: A New Civil Rights Movement Led by Immigrant Youth.” Wong discussed his experiences working with undocumented students at both UCLA and Dream Summer, a summer program geared toward helping undocumented youth to succeed and to fight for social change. Wong shared stories about how several of his students’ families were subjected to predawn raids and forced into deportation camps. He also discussed the difficulties that undocumented students face in higher education, such as the out-of-state tuition that many states charge and the obstacles to receiving financial aid.

The professor also talked at length about the success of the immigrant youth movement at forcing politicians to become aware of the problems that undocumented youth face. Wong noted that while President Obama likes to take credit for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals executive order, which freed hundreds of thousands of undocumented youth from fear of deportation, the undocumented youth movement forced Obama to confront the issue. Wong also reminded the audience that more people have been deported under Obama’s administration than under that of any other president.

“We cannot allow the kind of racist hatred that is being promoted on Fox News, in the national presidential debate, on these daily talk shows, to go unchallenged,” Wong said at the end of his lecture. “People of conscience cannot allow the right wing to advance their anti-immigrant policies. That’s why we think it’s so important to take on the fight against deportations, to stand with the immigrant youth movement and also to demand access to higher education, which long-term will yield tremendous benefit not only to immigrant communities but to society as a whole.”