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Poet Meets Senator in D.C.

February 6, 2018

Group with Senator HarrisWalking up the steps of Capitol Hill, immigration activist Gaby Gil ’18 wasn’t sure how she’d be received inside the domed building. Gil was in Washington D.C. to meet with legislators and to advocate on behalf of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Her visit was coordinated through the President’s Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, a group of university and college leaders dedicated to increasing public understanding of how immigration policies and practices impact students, campuses, and communities. As part of this effort, hundreds of students from across the country descended on the nation’s Capital to lobby for a legislative solution to DACA.

Once inside the Capitol, Gil had the opportunity meet one of her legislative “heroes,” California Senator Kamala Harris. The Senator provided assurances that she was doing her best to advocate for all immigrants. 

“As a woman of color, she’s a perfect role model and one of the few politicians I look up to,” said Gil.

Whittier College Vice President of Advancement Steve Delgado accompanied Gil on the trip, providing mentorship and guidance. A history major and Latino studies minor, Gil was chosen to represent Whittier because of her trajectory of involvement on campus. She currently serves as a diversity ambassador for Whittier’s Office of Equity and Inclusion.

“With this visit, I am able to amplify the voice of my community, which is a lot of pressure, but also an honor,” said Gil.   

In December, President Sharon Herzbeger joined the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, which now has more than 240 members. And in March 2017, the Whittier College Board of Trustees issued an official statement directing the College administration to adopt the Poet Student Sanctuary Protections Policy. The Policy was in response to changes to immigration policy that could have negative effects on students who are undocumented, attend college under the DACA program, or have undocumented family members.