An Uncertain Future for Undocumented Immigrants

December 13, 2016

As+an+undocumented+immigrant%2C+junior+Cinthya+Fuentes%27+future+is+uncertain.+The+program+Deferred+Action+for+Child+Arrivals%2C+which+provides+Cinthya+deferred+action+from+deportation%2C+may+be+under+threat+with+a+Trump+administration.+Photo+by+Francesca+Fallow.

As an undocumented immigrant, junior Cinthya Fuentes' future is uncertain. The program Deferred Action for Child Arrivals, which provides Cinthya deferred action from deportation, may be under threat with a Trump administration. Photo by Francesca Fallow.

For junior Cinthya Fuentes, the election of Donald Trump stimulated fears that not many students face. As an undocumented immigrant, Cinthya is at risk if Trump follows through on his threats to minorities. Trump has established that he wants to repeal certain policies and services that aid undocumented immigrants who are pursuing continued residence in the U.S.

For Cinthya and other undocumented students, Trump’s attacks on the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA) policy have stirred uncertainty and concern, as they rely on DACA for protection. DACA gives undocumented immigrants a two-year renewal period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility to receive a work permit.

“I’m really afraid for my future, because when I had DACA, I felt safe, I felt like I had somewhere to go after high school,” Cinthya said. “But now I’m not so sure of what [to do] anymore.”

Co-founder and executive director of Educators for Fair Consideration (E4FC), an organization that helps undocumented students fulfill their education, Katharine Gin believes that DACA will soon be repealed but is unsure as to when the repeal will happen.

“We do not know when or how the Trump administration will end the DACA program,” Gin said in an email posted online. “It could end the program effective immediately and instantly revoke work permits, or it could allow current DACA recipients to keep their work permits until they expire but not renew them.”

Despite the fears Trump’s presidency brings, Cinthya chooses not to let the results bring her down and continues to see life optimistically. On Tuesday, November, 14, Cinthya participated in Los Altos’ walkout to make her voice heard and find a sense of support in the community.

“I think the school has been really supportive, especially all my teachers,” Cinthya said. “[AVID teacher Aranxta Arriada], my fifth period teacher, literally told me, ‘Go Cinthya! Fight for your rights.’ I have so much support — I have her, my family, my parents. I have all my friends who are supporting me.”

Feeling secure with the support of the community, Cinthya does not want to be viewed as helpless or as just a statistic. Despite the future’s uncertainty, Cinthya plans to attend a university and attain a college degree, and her determination to achieve her goals keeps her focused.

“We are just people,” Cinthya said. “The day Trump won, I just felt like everyone was feeling pity for me, but I’m just another person like everyone else. [I] don’t wake up like, ‘Oh yeah, I’m undocumented.’ It’s just part of your life.”

Teachers at Los Altos have also made an effort to help undocumented students. Arriada has witnessed the reactions of her students to the election and tries to help maintain positivity. 

I felt alone for a really long time, but seeing all these people at the protest, I know we have a lot of support.”

— Junior Cinthya Fuentes

“I had students that were crying,” Arriada said. “They’re scared they might lose all their protection that they currently have. What does that mean for college? Does that mean I am going to get deported? What does this mean for my family?”

Arriada informed her students of the resources available to them, including E4FC — an organization that offers alternatives to DACA. Gin recommends undocumented students to seek out other immigration services that could provide similar support to DACA.

Counselor Jacob Larin also aids families and students dealing with immigration issues. Larin believes that equal rights and protection for immigrants will remain despite Trump’s presidency.

“We are going to be helping the whole way,” Larin said. “Immigrants have been here since the beginning of this country, [and] nothing’s going to change that. Not a president, not a law, not the Supreme Court, not the Senate nor the House.”

As Trump’s inauguration day nears, Cinthya hopes others like her understand that support exists within the community.

“We’re not alone,” Cinthya said. “I felt alone for a really long time, but after seeing all these people here at the protest, I know we have a lot of support.”

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