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Undocumented students control the narrative with new book

Ray Garcia

Western’s Blue Group, a community for undocumented students and allies, has published a book called “UndocuStudents: Our Untold Stories” to raise awareness and funds for the undocumented student experience. Their publication is bringing a new narrative to the table: their own.

Western’s Blue Group was created so that undocumented students could provide resources and support to each other, and also to build a community since there isn’t one on campus, Blue Group historian Victoria Matey said.

Although the book was set to be released earlier, the students found it difficult to submit stories in the political climate that accompanied the last presidential election, Blue Group co-adviser Emmanuel Camarillo said.

The book is comprised of works from undocumented students that represent them in the way they want to be portrayed. From the collage piece “Words” to the short story “El Sueño de un Niño,” each section within the book tells an individual story.

“Everyone always has their narrative of who we are and what we do, and that’s not okay,” Matey said. “It’s not okay because it’s not our own narrative.”

Camarillo said one of the inspirations for the book came from the lack of resources within the university for undocumented students or undocumented immigrants.

“The first reason we did this is because then this allows [the book] to be one of those resources that students, faculty, and staff can check out and look at…to use in their classrooms,” Camarillo said.

In addition, Blue Group wanted to fundraise for the Undocumented Student Resource Fund they created.

If an undocumented student is experiencing financial hardship, the group wants to provide a resource where those students can request aid, Camarillo said. The profits from the book won’t go to Blue Group, but instead to the resource fund for any undocumented student’s use.

“It’s an opportunity for Bellingham to know who some of these students are through their stories,” Camarillo said. “It’s also an opportunity for Bellingham to then support our undocumented students who have done so much for the city all through this year.”

At first, “UndocuStudents” became accessible through Western Libraries’ online service, Contributing to Education through Digital Access to Research.

Western’s CEDAR is part of an innovative global movement promoting open access, Clarissa Mansfield, library communications manager, said.

“It is a place where we can put the creative and scholarly works of people affiliated with Western,” Mansfield said in an email. “It’s part of the open access movement, which means you are removing barriers to information.”

“Western Libraries is hoping to collaborate with Emmanuel and the Blue Group during winter quarter on an event and a display that will feature and highlight this project and these students,” Mansfield said.

“You’ve been asking how to support us, this is how,” Matey said.

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