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Student & Alumni Achievements

Student & Alumni Achievements

Florida International: Social Work Student Gives Helping Hand to Undocumented Families

Today in the United States, nearly six million citizen children live with a family member who is undocumented, usually a parent.

When Ms. Maryam Rafieifar began her PhD at the Florida International University Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work, her intention was to continue her work with undocumented immigrants.

“When I started to read and learn about undocumented immigrants in the U.S., I found this population who are citizens with an undocumented parent or parents – it’s a very complicated situation,” said Ms. Rafieifar. “They have every right as a citizen but because of their parents’ status, they are often deprived of access to social services, mostly because their parents are afraid they will be taken away and never see their children again.”

As part of a class project, Ms. Rafieifar discovered an article about the Nora Sandigo Children Foundation, a foundation centered on Ms. Nora Sandigo, who is the legal guardian of more than 1,200 children whose parents have either been deported or have a strong fear of deportation.

“I realized that grassroots organizations like Nora’s, that grow out of such a critical need – they also need help. They are working with limited supplies and, often, limited experience in running an organization that can quickly grow.”

As she plans for her dissertation, Ms. Rafieifar continues to work with the Nora Sandigo Children’s Foundation. She recently was awarded a Global Civic Engagement Mini Grant, based out of the FIU Center for Leadership and Service, to help host an event – in conjunction with the Nora Sandigo Children Foundation— that informed mixed-status families about their rights when stopped by the police or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

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