MSA creates task force to support immigrant students

The goal of the group is to provide resources and support to non-citizen immigrant and international students.

Michelle Griffith

The University of Minnesota’s Minnesota Student Association recently created a task force that aims to support non-citizen immigrant students.

MSA’s Non-Citizen Immigrant Task Force hopes to connect non-citizen immigrant and international students to University resources and encourage them to express their needs. The task force is using an online application to recruit members and is currently in the planning stages of development. 

“[This task force] was created in response to our national climate … as well as our campus climate,” said MSA President Simran Mishra. “We’re recognizing that right now at this point in time, in our University and in our country, we really need more dedicated attention to our vulnerable students on campus.” 

Immigration policies enacted by the Trump Administration impact many aspects of immigrant life, said Immigration Response Team Director Marissa Hill-Dongre. 

“Things that are happening on a national scale are definitely affecting lives of University of Minnesota students,” Hill-Dongre said.

The group is trying to create an umbrella for all student culture groups where they have an accessible support system, said task force director Oliver Zheng. Some non-citizen immigrant students are most comfortable with those from their own country or of the same cultural experience, he said. 

“People can feel not necessarily a part of the [University], or maybe not understood depending on where you’re from as well — like if you’re from a lesser-known place,” Udita Goel, Minnesota International Student Association external engagement coordinator. 

The task force is planning to educate non-citizen immigrant students of their working visa rights and leasing legal rights so they are not exploited, Zheng said. They also hope to involve the students in the midterm election process through canvassing and expressing their voices. 

The task force plans to promote its mission to students through coordination with student cultural groups, Zheng said.

The University currently provides resources to non-citizen immigrant students — the students are required to attend the University’s Immigration Check-In and are given resources to help them be successful students. However, Goel said she does not feel like the check-in is personal enough. 

“The University kind of limits themselves to the professional aspect… [It] does more to kind of provide resources instead of actively … being like, ‘this is what it is and how you do do it,’” Goel said. 

Mishra said MSA wants to do more to retain these students.

“We want to make sure that our university for example has such a great and strong population of [international, immigrant and non-citizen] students. We’d never want to see that decline, or we never want to lose that because that brings so many perspectives,” Mishra said. 

Correction: A previous version of this story named Udita Goel as MSA’s external engagement coordinator. Goel works for the Minnesota International Student Association, or MISA.