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Marquette University celebrates its 9th annual Dreamers Gala

Marquette University's Dreamers Gala is student-led event that celebrates the accomplishments of DACA students and helps support their financial needs.
Photo provided by Lizbeth Landeros
Marquette University's Dreamers Gala is student-led event that celebrates the accomplishments of Dreamers and helps support their financial needs.

Marquette University is gearing up to celebrate its 9th annual Dreamers Gala, which recognizes the accomplishments of undocumented students and helps support their financial needs.

Dreamers are undocumented people who came to the U.S. as children and grew up in the country. The term Dreamers stems from the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act. The DREAM Act is legislation meant to permanently protect young immigrants, but it still hasn't passed through Congress since it was first introduced in 2001.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, protects recipients who came to the U.S. as children from deportation and allows them to work legally. However, the DACA program remains fragile. DACA recipients — also referred to as Dreamers — must apply for renewal every two years, and those pursuing higher education aren’t eligible for federal financial aid.

All DACA recipients are undocumented, but not all undocumented people are able to obtain DACA status due to U.S. District courts ruling DACA as unlawful. However, people who obtained DACA on or before July 16, 2021 can continue to apply to renew their DACA status.

The Dreamers Gala is a student-led event that invites the community to join students, faculty and staff at Marquette to celebrate Dreamers and support its Ignacio Ellacuria S.J. Dreamers Scholarship.

The theme for this year’s Gala is “Out of the Shadows” and is meant to highlight the resiliency of Marquette’s undocumented students.

“This year’s theme recognizes the commitment that us Dreamers have to the United States as we acknowledge it as our home despite the uncertainties that our immigration status creates,” says Lizbeth Landeros, a Dreamer and student organizer for the Gala. “But this year specifically, we want to recognize the need to create a greater visibility of the challenges that Dreamers face, as well as symbolize the spirit that we need to embrace our presence.”

Landeros says some of the unique challenges that Dreamers face include not knowing who to ask for help or what resources are available to undocumented students.

However, she says that attending the Dreamers Gala during her sophomore year of high school helped her decide to apply and attend Marquette University.

“I feel like there’s no words to explain it, but [the Gala] is a beautiful experience,” Landeros says. “There’s a lot of community members and staff that go out and suppor. So, just seeing everybody come into one place and like knowing that you have that amount of people there to support and acknowledge your hard work is very special.”

Registration for the 9th annual Dreamer’s Gala closes on March 11th. The Gala will take place at 5 p.m. on March 19th at Marquette University.

CORRECTION: In a previous digital version of this story, we incorrectly referred to Lizbeth Landeros as a DACA recipient. Landeros is a Dreamer. The correction also applies to the audio version of this story.


Xcaret is a WUWM producer for Lake Effect.
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