Women’s Issues and Immigration

[by Ally Weides, re-posted from the Fall 2019 STLR Newsletter]

Immigration has been a recurring topic on news platforms, and even on campus for the past couple of years due to the current political climate. Graciela Lopez is a UCO student who has found her passion in educating the public on the problems immigrants face in America.

Graciela Lopez is a Sociology and Human Services major and is very active with several organizations on campus. Graciela expressed her concerns for her community with the recent immigration raids that have been occurring in the United States. Her very own experiences were her inspiration for submitting a proposal.

“I know exactly what it’s like to be in a situation like this and I wanted to educate others on what my community experiences. We are all one community so we should all help each other.”

Her goal was to strengthen her community by educating them on their rights and on what to do if an immigration raid were to happen in their area.

“Immigration and Family Separation” is a STLR-funded project that is working to educate the community on the issues that undocumented people face during the process of becoming American citizens and the trauma that families face.”

Graciela held an open forum called “Immigration and family separation and their issues that impact women and children”. During the forum she expressed the importance of having a family plan and how to protect their own families. She also had a civil rights lawyer present to educate the public on their rights. There was also trauma specialist from children’s immigration detention centers that gave tips on how to avoid trauma, and a Mexican council member explained the services that they offer if anyone were in need of help.

Graciela explains that a goal that she felt was achieved during the duration of her project was building a better relationship between former UCO President Betz and the Hispanic community on campus. She also hopes in the future to hold events with immigration officers to make sure people are aware of the new rules and regulations to help undocumented people achieve citizenship.

Graciela is currently working on a research project that focuses on reasons that push women and children to immigrate to the U.S. “The open forum and the research project are two great opportunities where I am putting into practice what I learned with my professors in their classrooms. I get out of my comfort zone to serve those in need using all the skills my sociology courses are offering me. I became an activist for social causes and I advocate for the people in my community.”

Graciela will receive STLR credit in Global and Cultural Competencies and in Research, Creative and Scholarly Activities.

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