Immigration Enforcement Has Students Fearful and Oppressed


Ruth Margarito, Contributor

When your parents come from a distinct country, where English is not their first language, their traditions and culture are not the same, everything can seem petrifying. In the United States, there has recently been a terror with deportation. Immigrants in our community are scared of talking to the authorities, applying for a green card, therefore bearing the humiliation due to fear. 

US History teaches us that there has always been a separation between racial groups. Nothing of what we see today is new. Our history shows how people of color are not treated equally. 

For example, The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo promised full US citizenship and freedom to the Mexican population. Later shown in history we can see that it was not enforced by authority nor taken into action by law.

In the 1930 Lemon Grove Incident, the school board of Lemon Grove attempted to separate Mexican kids from white kids, in which they claimed Mexicans were dirty and lacked personal hygiene. They decided to make a seperate “school” for the Mexican students which turned out to be a farm. 

Present day immigrants are no longer considered human beings but rapist and thieves. Our current office holder, President Donald Trump, exemplifies that “these aren’t people, they’re animals.” The President also tweets things such as “They are not our friends, believe me.” And makes other comments like “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” Criminals aren’t found in just one country or in one racial group. They are found anywhere and in any form. There are crimes being committed all around the world, but it all comes down to who we would like to blame. It is ultimately based on race and color. 

With immigration laws changing unexpectedly, there is no reassurance of what the future holds for communities. DACA, an immigration policy presented by President Obama, allowed some individuals to have the chance to have a renewable two year period differed from deportation in order to be eligible for a work permit. Ultimately, our President Donald Trump has taken that advantage away from many students. Since the start of January 2019 there has been no first time applicants accepted or processed. 

Many of our students at San Rafael High School are children of immigrants or are immigrants themselves. Fear is one way to describe the emotions these students feel about the topic when it comes up. I interviewed various students at our school and it was clear to see that many students had the conversation of who they would stay with if their parents were to be deported and what legal actions would be executed. 

I asked Merly Maldonado, a senior at our school about a case scenario. If ICE raids were happening at her apartment buildings, she stated she would “skip school and stay inside with her parents.” This highlights that no matter what, students would always do whatever they can to protect their parents, even if it affects their academics. Merly said that if her parents were to be taken away, she would ask her older brother, who is not even 21 years old yet to take responsibility. She would start taking more shifts to help out because there would be no one she or her brothers could depend on.

During the first week of August, Luz Diaz, another senior at our school, had two of her cousins detained by ICE. They were on their way to work in Florida, their Visas were expired and they were taken in. She had looked up both of her cousins on a public booking log and did not find a crime committed, so she called the immigration facility and after being put on hold for 20 minutes, they told her the only way they were going to be released was through paying a bond. She asked why they were being detained, and if there had been an ICE raid. The caller then responded in an offended matter, “Oh, so you’re going to complain about ICE raids now ma’am?!” Luz tried to apologize but was then interrupted by the responder saying “No, no let me speak. They are illegal. That is why they’re here. I can’t tell you why they’re here. Everyone in this facility is here for a reason and its because of their unlawful presence in this country.” Luz explained how she felt defeated after the call, knowing she wasn’t able to do anything.

According to the U.S Immigrantion and Custom Enforcements, there have been 158,000 administrative arrests this year. In other words, those who were taken in might have been a part of a family that has now been separated between a border. Parents who are being taken away from kids, and kids being put in detention centers are left vulnerable because they are left without any form of communication.They suffer and fear of what can happen to them and their parents. 

Earlier this year, 11 year old Magdelena Gomez Gregorio came home from her first day of school only to find that her dad had been taken away by ICE. In tears she exclaimed, “Government please show some heart, let my parent be free with everybody else please… My dad didn’t do nothing. He’s not a criminal.” The raids had already been planned for a year and an hour later our President was meeting with the victims of the El Paso shooting. 

There are 4.1 million U.S citizen children under the age of 18 that have at least one undocumeneted parent, and roughly half a million children have experienced apprehension, detention or deportation. A child who experiences this is most likely to battle with depression, anxiety and severe psychological distress. It can also lead to economic instability, being put into the child welfare system, and finally the hardest choice of all, having their parents choose whether to have their child stay alone in the United States to receive a better opportunity at life or take them back to their country to face hardship once again.