Around 40 students, parents and members of the community gathered in the first event of Long Beach State’s Undocumented Professional Development series Tuesday.
The program, hosted by the Career and Development Center, focused on teaching students who are under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program the skills to venture into their own small businesses.
“With a whole class of folks that are coming into college that are without the DACA protection or are undocumented, we wanted to provide this workshop [to give] some options,” said Christian Lozano, assistant director for the office of multicultural affairs.
Free legal assistance, not just limited to immigration laws, for any undocumented students are available at the DREAM Success Center. Each case of aiding a student remains private, according to Lozano.
“I’m undocumented and I work here at the university,” Lozano said “It’s something that I speak very openly about. If you feel comfortable, share it. It’s a matter of bringing awareness to the issue and to put a face to the issue.”
The info-session served as a platform to inform students about options to earn a living and become an entrepreneur without a social security number.
“Anyone can create a business but how do we go about it in the legal way,” said Kenia Garcia, an alumna of class of 2016. “It’s so weird as someone [who is] undocumented trying to do this in a system that I’m not even supposed to be in.”
Under Senate Bill 1159, an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number can be used to file and pay taxes with data that is collected confidentially. But ITIN is not proof of immigration status or work authorization where an SSN is still required.
All businesses must have a license to operate in Long Beach. Under Assembly Bill 2184, a driver’s license, identification number or an ITIN number can replace an SSN and can be used to apply and obtain a business license, according to Sasha Feldstein with the California Immigrant Policy Center.
“If you try and go and fill out a business application at the city clerk’s office, you can let them know that these are your rights,” Feldstein said. “You’re able to use a different identification number and a different address.”
The event also served as community outreach to better inform students of their legal rights if Immigration and Customs Enforcement were to contact them. Students were given red cards that list their legal rights and a yellow card for the community defense network. The yellow card lists a rapid response line that deploys a community member on the scene to document any ICE incident for possible legal use.
Although no new DACA applications are being taken in, students are advised to renew their DACA as soon as possible.
“We don’t necessarily know what’s going to happen,” Maribel Cruz with Long Beach Immigration Rights Coalition said. “The applications that were already in USCIS were processed and were granted DACA protection, so if your application is already in USCIS, your chances of actually getting it renewed for two more years increases as opposed to waiting until your renewal window.”
The Career and Development Center plans to host two additional workshops next semester that will also address immigration policies.