The University of California-LA Dream Summer national internship program is offering paid internship opportunities to undocumented young adults through its 10 week social justice leadership program. The program is sponsored by UCLA’s Labor Center’s Dream Resource Center, which was established after the proposed federal immigration reform DREAM Act was vetoed by the U.S. Senate in 2010. The program aims to empower young leaders to advocate for immigration reform by providing them with experience working in social justice based organizations. Since the program’s inception, 418 undocumented interns have participated in the program with many going on to become activists for immigration reform.
According to UCLA’s Daily Bruins online publication, internships are offered to those who play a current role in immigration advocacy, or who display a serious interest in becoming an active leader in the area of social justice. Internships are awarded to those with various talents, including artists, event planners, graphic designers, researchers, photographers, social media enthusiasts, workshop facilitators and writers. The wide range of talents enables leaders with various styles to work together to bring the needs of the undocumented population to the attention of the American people and government, especially in the area of universal healthcare. At the completion of the 10 week program, interns are awarded $5,000 for their participation.
The University of California-LA joins the University of California-San Diego and the University of California-Berkley in granting scholarships exclusively to undocumented students in the hopes that they become leaders in immigration reform. Opponents to these programs claim that they are unfair to legal residents and international students who must meet strict requirements to stay enrolled in U.S. universities. Educational F-1 visas for international students require them to earn credit for paid and unpaid internships and get approval from the Dashew Center for International Students and Scholars. Offering paid internships to undocumented immigrants has been criticized by many campus students.
The US Census Bureau reports that the Hispanic population of California is the majority race among the approximately 15 million residents living in the state. Sixty-eight percent of undocumented immigrants in California are Mexican residents who come to the United States to pursue the employment and educational opportunities available through organizations like the UCLA internship program. While advocates for immigration reform do not promote illegal access to the United States, they advocate for the rights to citizenship for those already here, especially those who arrived in American under 16 years of age.
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