Santa Barbara City College Opens Dream Center to Help Undocumented Students

It's the latest California college to provide a centralized resource with legal, academic, and financial resources for undocumented students.

Published November 1, 2022

Edited by Darlene Earnest
Santa Barbara City College Opens Dream Center to Help Undocumented Students
Photo by Alexander Spatari / Moment / Getty Images

  • Santa Barbara City College celebrated Undocumented Student Week of Action by opening its new Dream Center.
  • The opening included speakers and activities for students to learn more about the center.
  • The Dream Center aims to help undocumented students navigate higher education and beyond.

Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) opened its Dream Center last Wednesday, bringing community resources to the undocumented student community on campus.

The center will provide a space where these students can access legal, academic, and financial resources, including scholarship and immigration assistance.

"SBCC is committed to supporting undocumented students as they develop into the next generation of entrepreneurs, teachers, scientists, artists and leaders in our community," Roxane M. Byrne, SBCC coordinator of equity, diversity, and cultural competency, said in a press release. "The Dream Center is a resource for all undocumented and mixed-status students in need of legal support, academic guidance, advocacy, and a space for belonging on campus."

Mixed-status students have at least one family member who is undocumented. While the majority of these students are U.S. citizens themselves, one or both parents or their siblings may be undocumented.

The center, which is part of Santa Barbara City College's Office of Equity, Diversity, and Cultural Competency, hosted a number of events during California Community Colleges' systemwide Undocumented Student Week of Action, including the Dream Center's opening celebration.

The week of events included a keynote speech from television writer and author of "Illegally Yours: A Memoir" Rafael Agustín and a grand opening with music, food, and the chance to write letters of support to other undocumented students, according to the school.

"[SBCC] is committed to fostering an equitable, inclusive, respectful, participatory and supportive community dedicated to the success of every student," the release read. "Supporting undocumented students with the Dream Center is just one of the many ways in which the college strives to serve not only students but also the entire Santa Barbara region."

Santa Barbara City College joins many community colleges and California universities in creating central resource centers for their undocumented and mixed-status student populations. The office will be open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and have in-person and remote opportunities for students to engage with staff and get the resources they need.

Students in the University of California (UC) system can access Dream centers at several schools including UC Berkeley, UCLA, and UC Santa Barbara. The California State University system has centers at all 23 schools, including in Fullerton, Long Beach, and San Diego.

A March 2021 analysis by the Presidents' Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration and New American Economy found that over 427,000 undocumented students are enrolled in higher education, with 81% of undocumented students being enrolled in public institutions.

California has the highest number of undocumented students in higher education, with over 90,000 students.

"Undocumented students contribute immensely to campuses and communities across the country," the analysis read. "Their pursuit of higher education is vital to the future of our country and the competitiveness of our economy."