Capital Factory hosts event uniting citizens, undocumented alike

Representatives and the undocumented community discussed opportunities for them in higher education, entrepreneurship and the Dream Act during a DACA Summit hosted at Capital Factory Dec. 2.

The technology incubator hosted the event in conjunction with the Hispanic Alliance. Speakers aimed to provide information for those affected by the Trump administration’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program months prior.

St. Edward’s junior Joseph Ramirez, is an entrepreneur himself, creating a start up with fellow undocumented students called YOUnite. During a question and answer session, Ramirez said that “I now see entrepreneurship as one of the biggest opportunities for our undocumented community to really flourish.”

Another panel focused on how the undocumented community in Austin specifically has been faring since the end of DACA and the introduction of SB 4, or the “sanctuary cities bill.”

A City of Austin attorney spoke on the case against SB 4. Other major Texas cities also filed a suit against the bill including Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and El Paso.

The attorney mentioned reasons SB 4 might not be enforced as intended in Austin. “If we don’t have enough money, if our officers aren’t trained enough, these are legitimate reasons.” Additionally, Blank officers are required to fill out a lengthy report if they ask someone their immigration status.

Cristina Tzintzun also spoke on the panel about her work at Jolt Texas, a nonprofit dedicated to Latino issues. While Jolt will expand to include a chapter in cities such as Dallas and El Paso, Tzintzun does not want to have chapters outside of Texas. “The fight for immigrants rights starts in Texas,” Tzintzun said.

The other panelist Vanessa Rodriguez said higher education is her form of resistance, mentioning that she was inspired by Mayte Lara, a University of Texas at Austin student who received backlash following her announcement as undocumented on social media.

Sec. Julian Castro provided opening remarks. “We’ve already seen on this issue that your activism and your voice can make a tremendous difference.”

Castro, who served under the Obama Administration, said they got better on the issue of immigration over time.

“We had Dreamers go out and protest and organize and rally,” said Castro. “And out of that, came DACA that we’re trying to protect and turn into the Dream Act today.”

U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke expressed adamancy about delivering a “clean” Dream Act before the end of the year.

St. Edward’s student Alejandro Izaguirre asked O’Rourke how he maintains drive and hope as a public representative.

“Running this race, which is against the odds…. Sometimes I’ll think, what am I doing? Who am I? How the hell am I going to pull this off? And then I will meet someone like you, or be in a room like this and I am so energized because I know that it’s not me,” said O’Rourke. “It is all of us who want something better.” 

“You are having such an impact,” said O’Rourke. “And the impact extends beyond the Dreamers.”