Every day growing up, Gabriela Guillen awoke to the sounds of family members getting ready to work labor-intensive jobs in the early hours of the morning. She would hear footsteps as early as 5 a.m. – sometimes, she would even accompany them to work to help make an income.
Inspired by her upbringing, The Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) Board of Directors member and microbiology junior worked to make Cal Poly’s newly available ‘red cards’ a reality. The cards aim to help all individuals be aware of their Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights. They serve as a guide for citizens and non-citizens alike in the event that they are approached by an immigration agent, questioned about their immigration status or have an agent attempt to enter their home.
Guillen worked in conjunction with the Cal Poly Dream Center and the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) to bring the red cards to Cal Poly.
Guillen said she wanted there to be more ways for on-campus entities to help the Dream Center and Undocumented Working Group promote support for immigrant students on campus.
“My father is from Nicaragua and my mother is from Mexico – understanding their stories of immigration and how hard it was for them to exist in the United States, I made it my personal mission to support people that are marginalized due to their immigrant status,” Guillen wrote in an email to Mustang News. “I have always found it difficult to separate this narrative of being the child of immigrants, growing up in a house of immigrants, from my person. These are the experiences that made me who I am.”
The cards provide the following talking points:
- “I do not wish to speak with you, answer your questions, or sign or hand you any documents.”
- “I do not give you permission to enter my home … unless you have a [signed] warrant to enter.”
- “I do not give you permission to search any of my belongings.”
- “I choose to exercise my constitutional rights.”
Dream Center Coordinator Katherine Zevallos Pastor said the purpose of the red cards is to bring awareness to campus about everyone having rights regardless of immigration status.
“Red cards help people assert their rights, be confident and defend themselves in many situations,” Zevallos Pastor said.
Zevallos Pastro said community response has been positive. She said the Dream Center has even had federal education program TRIO Upward Bound come by the center to pick up red cards for their students who may have undocumented family members.
She also said she has had several Cal Poly staff and faculty members stop by to pick up cards for their students.
Anyone can pick up a red card at the Recreation Center, ASI Student Government Office or the University Union, according to a news release by ASI. The cards are currently available in English and Spanish throughout campus, and can also be found at the Dream Center in other languages, Zevallos Pastro said.
Correction: Gabriela Guillen is a Cal Poly junior, not a senior.