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Immigrant Youth Forum hosts rally to raise support for undocumented students

An Undocumented Youth Rally was held in the pit. Marco Cervantes participates in the event.
An Undocumented Youth Rally was held in the pit. Marco Cervantes participates in the event.

Undocumented youth and their allies are seeking community support to demand in-state tuition for public colleges in North Carolina — regardless of legal status.

The Immigrant Youth Forum — a group of both undocumented and documented youth from the Carrboro and Chapel Hill area — hosted a rally in the Pit Wednesday to raise awareness and support for undocumented students who must pay out-of-state tuition.

With current laws, undocumented students who graduate from North Carolina high schools must pay out-of-state tuition at public colleges and universities.

Dora Hernandez, an organizer with the forum, encouraged attendees to sign a petition in protest.

“There are a lot of people who don’t know this is happening and why Latinos aren’t attending universities,” she said.

Hernandez said many of the students in the forum have lived in North Carolina for most of their lives.

“We have to pay four or five times more than in-state (students), and we basically have the same qualifications to attend but can’t because it’s too much money,” she said.

Marco Cervantes, a member of the forum, exposed himself as undocumented at the rally and said he was unafraid.

“I have been in the Chapel Hill school system since pre-K, and it was because of a nine-digit number that I could not get financial aid,” he said, referring to a social security number.

Altha Cravey, an associate geography professor at UNC, said she attended the rally to support undocumented students.

“I think it’s a travesty of justice that our political leaders are not standing up for equality for all of our youth,” she said.

Many supporters spoke at the rally, and one recited a spoken word poem about illegal immigrants.

Maria Pia Rodriguez, a UNC junior and co-chairwoman of Students United for Immigration Equality, also attended the rally as an undocumented student.

“It’s my responsibility and duty to talk, being undocumented and unafraid,” she said.

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