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WIU Professors and Students Champion ''Work Permits for All'' Campaign in Washington D.C.

On November 14, Western Illinois University Political Science Professor Julia Albarracín, Professor of Anthropology Heather McIlvaine-Newsad and Multicultural Center Director Katy Valentin led a group of 37 students from diverse academic departments on a transformative journey to Washington D.C. The delegation participated in the "Work Permits for All" Campaign, urging President Biden to approve work permits for long-term residents.

The majority of participating students are first or second-generation immigrants, directly impacted by current immigration policies. Albarracín highlighted the challenges faced by many immigrants.

"In the United States, if you don't have a relative who is a resident or a citizen, or a college degree, it's virtually impossible to get a green card,” Albarracin said. “This was an empowering experience of advocating for issues close to home, particularly for Latinx students, fostering a sense of agency, self-worth and ethnic pride.”

Despite facing adversity, such as a flat tire during the journey, the experience proved invaluable for all participating students. Beyond engaging in the "Work Permits for All" Campaign, they explored historic sites, honed skills in meetings with congresspersons and staffers, and actively participated in a march and rally.

Winter Unverzagt, a Political Science major, expressed the significance of the trip.

“I felt that it symbolized the increasing presence of diversity in the United States and the importance of upholding our values as Americans as we fight for worker permits for all,” Unverzagt said.

The success of this impactful journey was made possible through the collaboration and support of various organizations, including The Resurrection Project, the WIU Foundation, UPI and private donors.

“It is important that we were able to fund these initiatives,” Albarracin said. “It made the opportunity more inclusive by covering transportation, hotel accommodations and meals for the participants.

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