PLUMAS is fighting for the Latinx community at UMD

 Photo courtesy of Blanca Palma

Photo courtesy of Blanca Palma

Created in 2013, The Political Latinxs United for Movement and Action in Society (PLUMAS) is an advocacy organization at the University of Maryland, College Park, aimed at discussing and addressing issues that affect the Latinx community on and off campus.

PLUMAS is run by students who focus on issues like the status of undocumented students at the university. In 2015, the organization launched a Dream Fund to raise money for undocumented students’ legal fees, in response to uncertainty of what would occur under President Donald Trump, who is attempting to eliminate the DACA program.

Yvette Lerma Jones, former member of PLUMAS, and coordinator of Latina/o/x Student Involvement and Advocacy for MICA, helped organize the Dream Fund.

“PLUMAS has fundraised and dispersed support to undocumented students in a time of crisis to pay for legal consultation, DACA renewal fees and additional urgent financial needs,” Jones said. “This is not a simple process to facilitate, but they have done so with care for the students and families receiving funding since there is a need to handle this information with care and confidentiality when possible. Due to care for privacy and capacity, follow up is hard to process. “

Palma Blanca, president of PLUMAS, believes the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy shows the administration does not care about the harm it creates to achieve an agenda.

“The zero-tolerance policy during the past summer was a disaster,” Blanca said. “The Trump administration created the policy with the intention to create fear, so that families would not want to immigrate. It created fear and trauma for those families who were separated and continue to be separated. The zero-tolerance policy demonstrated that the Trump administration does not care about the harm it creates to achieve its agenda.”

In order to get students involved in the political arena, Blanca proposes activities as a first step toward  being part of the community. Interested students can volunteer as a coordinator with the group. The Undocumented Student Resources Website provides educational workshops and resources for students to join. It also allows students to create community work opportunities such as hosting breakfast or lunch for students who identify as immigrants or are of immigrant families.

PLUMAS’ reach extends past the Latinx community on campus. The Dream Fund is accessible to any student on campus who needs assistance with emergency legal aid.

“Our Dream Fund has always and will be continue to be accessible to any student on campus who needs assistance with emergency legal aid,” Blanca said. “Last year, we also had the opportunity to offer one student a $500 scholarship which was also open to all undocumented students no matter their background. It is important to move away from the narrative that immigration is only a Latinx issue.”

In the wake of the university’s handling of the death of Jordan McNair, PLUMAS took part in the “Justice for Jordan” rally and helped organize the “Fire the Liars” demonstration in front of the Main Administration Building.

“We have to help voice the concerns of communities who are unable to do so,” Blanca said.