Harvard Holds First ‘UndocuGraduation’ Ceremony for Illegal Immigrants

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 22: Demonstrators, many of them recent immigrants to America, protest the government shutdown and the lack of a deal on DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) outside of Federal Plaza on January 22, 2018 in New York City. As the Trump administration continues to focus …
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A special graduation ceremony was hosted at Harvard University on Wednesday for illegal immigrants titled “UndocuGraduation.” The ceremony, a first of its kind at Harvard, included a speech by a professor arrested while protesting President Donald Trump.

The graduation ceremony — dubbed “UndocuGraduation” — was hosted at Harvard on Wednesday to celebrate illegal immigrant graduates, according to a report by The Harvard Crimson, which added that one of the ceremony’s guest speakers was history professor Kirsten Weld, who had been arrested in 2017 while protesting President Trump.

The professor had been one of the thirty-one Harvard professors arrested in the fall of 2017 for blocking traffic during a protest of the president’s decision to repeal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

“The road to being whoever you want to be and figuring out what that means has been longer,” said Weld, “and it’s been more winding for you than it has been for many of your peers at the College and at the graduate schools here at Harvard — and I think that’s really what we’re recognizing here today.”

Along with professor Weld, the illegal immigrant graduation ceremony also included former Act on a Dream director, Pierre R. Berastain, Harvard Financial Aid Initiative director Michael Esposito, and Harvard custodian and Temporary Protected Status coalition organizer Doris Reina-Landaverde, as guest speakers.

The “UndocuGraduation” ceremony was brought to the school by the “Act on a Dream” student group, which seeks to push Harvard administrators to increase the school’s support for illegal immigrant students and advocate for legislative measures designed to abolish ICE, according to the group’s website.

“The event was organized to highlight the struggles and the ways in which undocumented students persevere on this campus,” said Act on a Dream co-director Emily A. Romero, according to The Harvard Crimson, “This campus can be very difficult to navigate, yet here are so many people who came out at the end of this tunnel as better individuals than how they entered it.”

Salvadoran-American poet and activist Javier Zamora was reportedly present as the event’s keynote speaker, where he told the graduating students that “nobody, not this institution, not this president” could have anticipated the accomplishments of illegal immigrants.

“And that’s their lack of imagination,” added Zamora, “That’s their lack of dream.”

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Twitter at @ARmastrangelo and on Instagram.

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