HEFAS takes to De Anza’s main quad to show solidarity


Volunteers and interns of the Higher Education for AB 540 Students (HEFAS) program took to the Main Quad on Thursday, Sept. 28 to make sure undocumented students feel welcome on the De Anza College campus this school year.

“I remember being in high school, I was really shy to say that I was undocumented,” said Manuel Alonzo, 22, biological sciences major and intern with HEFAS for two years. “I bet there’s people like me…they’re still hiding in the shadows. It’s something that’s really hard to do. You’re scared to get judged, you’re scared to get picked on or bullied.”

Alonzo is now featured on the front of one of many informative flyers that HEFAS had displayed on their table.

AB 540 is a California state law that allows undocumented students resident status when applying for state financial aid and in-state tuition.

As an arm of the Vasconcellos Institute for Democracy in Action (VIDA), HEFAS is specifically geared towards providing resources for undocumented and low-income students.

“When I barely started at De Anza, when it asked me for financial aid they were like, ‘Are you a resident?’ And I didn’t know what they meant by resident,” said Yareli Hernandez, 21, forensic science major and intern with HEFAS. “This honestly makes me feel more accepted and known, and that it’s okay that I am undocumented, and that I’m not gonna be afraid of being called out on it.”

The HEFAS table had an application open to become a member (recipient of services) or a volunteer, as well as butterflies-a symbol of immigration-laid out across the table with words of solidarity written on them.

Jose Hernandez (not related to Yareli Hernandez), 20, mechanical engineering, found that HEFAS provided him with an opportunity to become more connected to other immigrant students.

“I am an immigrant, y’know. I want to be supportive of immigrants and I want to help my community,” Jose Hernandez said.

HEFAS will continue to have an on campus presence throughout the year.

They plan to have regular Thursday workshops that Yareli Hernandez referred to as “art-ivism.”

“It’s a way for people to get their feelings out in a form-like art, coloring, poems,” Yareli Hernandez said.

The workshops and other HEFAS activities will be open to all students who wish to support undocumented students, in addition to AB 540 recipients.

HEFAS was located in the Campus Center last year, but has since moved to reside with VIDA in the East Cottage.

“I would say to the ones that are still hiding in the shadows, I wanna let them know that they’re not alone and we’ll get through this together,” said Alonzo. “And to those that are not undocumented, I would encourage them to be a support to us, to be an ally.”