undocumented and unafraid
The SIM Mission
The Student Immigrant Movement is a MA-based statewide immigrant youth-led organization. We fight for the liberation of the undocumented community through the development of a network of immigrant youth organizers in high-density immigrant communities. We organize youth, ages 13-30, and provide political education, leadership training, protection, guidance, mentorship, and safe healing spaces.
The SIM Vision
Our vision is that all immigrant students have equal access to higher education, are not discriminated based on their immigration status, collectively realize their full potential, define their own identity and become fully engaged in every aspect of society that affects their lives.
The SIM History
The Student Immigrant Movement (SIM) was founded in 2005 with the goal to train, engage, and mobilize young leaders across the state to advocate and fight for higher education rights for all immigrant students.
In its earliest stages – as a project of the Massachusetts Immigrant & Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA) – the Student Immigrant Movement, in collaboration with many other groups, launched its own campaign for higher education, the “Higher Education Access For Immigrant Students” campaign. This peaked to a huge action called “Why We Can’t Wait.” where over 400 students, parents, and supporters of the immigrant community gathered at the steps of the grand staircase of the Massachusetts’ State House to demand equal access to higher education for all immigrant students.
However in March 2006, Mario Rodas, a SIM member was detained by Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE). In an effort to stop Mario’s deportation, SIM alongside its many allies, quickly launched the “We Are Mario” campaign. The campaign proved to be difficult, but after many meetings, actions, press conferences and media coverage Mario was granted asylum and was allowed to remain in the country.
It was around that time, that SIM joined millions of leaders nationwide, statewide and locally as a part of a collective push for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR). However mid-2007 CIR failed in the senate, and so, SIM’s focus was to once again challenge state policies that created barriers for undocumented immigrant students throughout Massachusetts.
As a result of this effort, in July 2007, the Board Of Higher Education passed a resolution that allowed immigrant students who were in the process of getting permanent residency to get in-state tuition. But the fight was not over; SIM was determined to secure the passage for in-state tuition for all undocumented students.
In 2008 as an effort to expand its student base, SIM transitioned from working under the umbrella of MIRA to being an independent organization that continues to grow to this day. Later that year, SIM was a founding member of the national United We Dream (UWD) Network, the largest undocumented youth-led organization.
In the state level, in 2009, SIM pushed for an Executive Order by Governor Patrick to expand in-state tuition benefits for all immigrant students. During this time, SIM lead a statewide leadership training, which helped expand the organization by recruiting, training and engaging new leaders. As a result, several chapters in different parts of the state were formed. Presently, SIM has over 7 seven chapters and groups in the Greater Boston, New Bedford, Central Massachusetts and North Shore regions.
But in 2010, SIM was once again fighting for the passage of the Dream Act. This resulted in several “Coming Out Of The Shadows” actions throughout the country, where students revealed their undocumented students to the public. That same year SIM launched another campaign called the “Brown Is Beautiful” campaign, where thousands of letters of support, church visits, and phone calls were given to Senator Brown’s office.
Sadly, in 2010, the Dream Act failed by 5 votes in the Senate, after passing the House of Representatives. It was a major blow to the immigrant youth movement. But the fight was not over. In 2011, as part of a national campaign “Education Not Deportation (END“ campaign, SIM worked to stop the deportation of two young students, Vini and Denis. We launched the “Stop Vini’s and Denis’ deportation!” After 8 months of continued pressure, Vini & Denis were given prosecutorial discretion in late 2011. During this same period, SIM also formed the CAP program (College Access Program) in order to provide the resources necessary for undocumented youth to attend higher education.
In 2012, SIM was part of a collaborative that pushed the President to sign an Executive Order called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, that allowed Dream Act eligible students to receive a work permit, and social security number. We hosted dozens of free legal clinics in our local chapters, that helped over 300 people apply for DACA.
Although a major victory, DACA was flawed with its many restrictions. DACA restrained the liberty to travel abroad, it excluded thousands of DREAMers, and denied access to federal financial aid. Students continue to struggle to afford their education while watching their parents live in fear as federal enforcement has increasingly penetrated the sense of security among local communities through increasing raids, detentions and deportations as well as the expansion of programs such as “Secure Communities.” Also, DREAMers’ reprieve from deportation is not permanent. Every two years, DACA recipients are forced to reapply otherwise face loss of status yet again.
Over the past few years, immigrant youth of SIM shifted capacity from DACA to access to higher education. Due to DACA excluding access to federal and state aid, students were still struggling to afford their education and reach their dreams. SIM ran an unsuccessful campaign for legislation that would’ve allowed all undocumented youth to access in-state tuition rates at state colleges and universities, and provided a pool of state money for the purposes of financial aid. Following that campaign, SIM changed its leadership and set a new focus towards basebuilding and membership development, with a new structure and organizing approach.
2016 saw the birth and growth of several of SIM’s teams, including a new high-school led East Boston chapter, a Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project team, a successful Deportation Defense campaign, and more. Unfortunately, 2016 also saw the rise of Donald Trump and the emboldenment of his right-wing base.
In the wake of Trump’s election, SIM responded with the DEFEND AND DEFY plan, ready to protect our community and fight back against Trump and his cronies. Check that out on the other page, and make sure you join us if you haven’t yet!