Oneida Vargas and Linda Baker

2018 Latino Heritage Intern – Oneida Vargas, left, is the 2018 SIU Carbondale Paul Simon Public Policy Institute’s Latino Heritage Legislative Intern. Vargas, of Chicago, is working with the Illinois senate Democrats during the spring 2018 legislative session. With Vargas is Linda Baker, university professor with the institute who mentors the institute’s interns in Springfield. (Photo provided)

March 07, 2018

Oneida Vargas is Simon Institute 2018 Latino Heritage Intern

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Oneida Vargas, a senior in political science at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, is the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute 2018 Latino Heritage Legislative Intern.

The internship is at the state capitol in Springfield. Vargas will work during the spring legislative session with the Illinois senate Democrats communications staff on policy issues with members of the General Assembly. Linda R. Baker, a university professor with the institute, is her mentor.

“I congratulate Oneida Vargas for her selection as the 2018 Latino Heritage intern. Oneida’s story is a powerful and courageous one that all of us at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute applaud,” John T. Shaw, institute director, said. “I am confident she will impress and inspire all of those who work with her in Springfield,”

Came to the United States as a child

Vargas, who is from Chicago, was born in Mexico and came to the United States with her parents when she was one year old. In her internship program application, she recounted her experiences as a new American and the importance of public policy on her own life and experience.

Benefitted from DACA program

Vargas said she and her brother have personally benefitted from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, the current federal initiative designed to provide protection from deportation for children brought to the country by their parents who were undocumented at the time of arrival.

She is active in organizations that work to improve conditions within the Latino community in the Chicago region.

She has served as the president of the Latino Cultural Association and a student mentor for the Chicago Scholars organization. Vargas previously worked with the Cook Community Public Defender's Office and helped support her family financially since receiving her work permit through DACA.

Rescinding DACA means that Vargas will have no more extensions available once her visa expires in April 2019, exactly one month before her expected graduation from SIU Carbondale.
Plans include law school, working in immigration law

Vargas plans to complete her undergraduate studies, attend law school and practice immigration law in the future. Her life experiences have instilled in her a commitment to help the immigrant and undocumented communities and the disadvantaged.

Baker, a longtime government relations professional and former cabinet secretary under two administrations, offers historical perspective and institutional knowledge to students on the issues they will be working on during their time in the capitol.

Baker noted Vargas' commitment, experiences and work ethic.

"Oneida's background provides her with an excellent understanding of the challenges faced by the undocumented community. She will make a strong advocate and an excellent addition to the internship program,” Baker said.

Donate to the internship program

Private donations from individuals and corporations fund the Latino Heritage Legislative Internship program. Tax-deductible donations can be made online or mailed to:

Paul Simon Public Policy Institute
Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Mail Code 4429
1231 Lincoln Dr.
Carbondale, Ill., 62901