By David Mamaril Horowitz
A City College resource center coordinator talked about entrepreneurship opportunities for immigrants, especially students without citizenship status, on Oct. 18 in the Multi-Use Building.
Voices of Immigrants Demonstrating Success (VIDA) Coordinator Alejandro Jimenez said California is a place where any person, whether they are a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy or not, can pitch great ideas to people in power.
Immigrants in particular, he said, already have experience being creative.
“As an immigrant […], when you’re in a new country, you don’t know the culture, and you have to adapt,” Jimenez said. “You have to continuously be creative. You have to continuously reinvent what you do and how you do it.”
He manages the program Dream Summer, which began as a research project that highlighted economic disparities in immigrant communities in Silicon Valley, focusing on San Mateo and Santa Clara County.
The program grew a brand called “Stay Hacking” to give immigrant youth fellowship, mentorship and other opportunities with tech companies in Silicon Valley and beyond.
They received backing from Netflix, which helped fund their first hackathon — a 24-hour, problem-solving event for DACA recipients and undocumented youth alike with technical experience, such as those who engineer, code and design.
“It was our way of saying, ‘OK, we’re not just talking about the lack of opportunities. We’re not just saying there are talented youth. Watch — we’re going to bring them to you,’” Jimenez said.
The presentation was one of five events hosted by VIDA from Oct. 15 to 19 as a part of Undocumented Student Week of Action. The college promoted the event as well as two webinars organized by Immigrants Rising, an organization that provides resources for undocumented youth.
“We are a sanctuary college in a sanctuary city in a sanctuary state, and I tell students all the time that the safest thing you can possibly do is to be a registered student,” Rocha said. “However you feel, short of federal ICE coming into the office, there is no way anyone can get your record.”
He also stressed that he had genuine hope that difficult times will pass, and the most important thing to do was to stay in school.