COLUMN: Deportations force us to look past our privilege

This past week, deportations and raids led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement turned Los Angeles from a city of hope into one of fear and uncertainty. Almost 200 undocumented Angelenos were detained and deported.

Daily Trojan

Los deportó la migra. Chills go down my back when I hear those words. The sheer thought that mi mamá y mi papá could be arrested and separated from me is one that has haunted me since I was small child. As a 10-year-old, I remember watching Univision and seeing hundreds of people like my family being raided and deported. My mom would hold a rosary in her hand, praying to la Virgen de Guadalupe, to protect us. My dad would go to work with his head down, scared that la migra might show up to his work and round up his construction co-workers. 

Texas, Georgia, New York and North and South Carolina have seen these raids in 2017 after President Donald Trump took office. Trump is doing what he promised: rounding up the “illegal aliens” and sending them back. But he’s not making America great again; he’s separating families and leaving American children without their parents.

Here at USC, we live in a gentrified bubble. We are divided from Los Angeles by virtual gates of misconception and entitlement. We fail to realize that there are high school kids down the street, workers at your favorite Mexican restaurant and even some of your classmates who live in constant fear of a family member being deported. With a presidential administration that won’t directly affect the majority of this school’s population, there are people like me, who don’t know if their parents will be snatched from their homes and sent to a country they barely even remember.

The vast majority of the undocumented people in this country are not criminals — they’re people with dreams. They’re people who are willing to take risks. They’re people who came to this country to find a future for their children. Now, hundreds of them are being separated from their families. For my parents, it’s been over 20 years since they stepped foot in their native Durango, Mexico. But with Trump, our fear that they could be deported is more real than ever.

It’s 2017, and we’re back to hiding in the shadows. The fear of my parents’ deportation has always existed, but now, the possibility of them getting sent back is more likely now than it ever has been.

Last week, a mother named Guadalupe García was deported from Arizona and separated from her two children for using a fake social security number in order to get a job. She came into this country to give her two kids a better life and a future that would have never existed back home.

The woman’s name is Guadalupe, just like la Virgen of Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico. With her brown skin and black hair, she symbolizes the struggle and the unending hope of the Mexican people who live in the United States.

Guadalupe García, or Lupita, represents a similar struggle. She is an echo of all of the Mexican mothers who live in the United States without papers. She is the symbol of risk and the definition of hard work. She is my mamá. She is my tía. She is my madrina. She is the definition of the undocumented Latina who risks everything for her children.

La Virgen de Guadalupe was known to say, “Am I not here, that I am your mother?” to Juan Diego, explaining to this poor, indigenous man that he would never be alone, as she would always be there. Now, Lupita won’t be able to be there for her two children anymore, like la Virgen de Guadalupe said she would be for us. Lupita is now separated from her children by an already-existing wall.

The problems nationwide are real, and they are constant, but things can be done locally to protect our community, even here on campus. It’s time that the school’s administration take action to prevent Trump’s xenophobia from affecting the Trojan community and its surrounding areas. The University must declare itself a sanctuary for undocumented students and workers and use its billionaire budget to provide resources for the families who fear deportation surrounding our campus.

Tomás Mier is a freshman majoring in journalism.  He is also the news editor of the Daily Trojan. “Trojan Talk” is a guest column that will typically run every other week.

1 reply
  1. Lance
    Lance says:

    Sadly, Trump’s contentious issue is yet one more that makes being an international student difficult, on top of our already complex culture and language. Assimilation assistance must come from numerous sources to aid these young people embarking on life’s journey. Most struggle in their efforts and need guidance from schools’ international departments, immigration protection, host families, concerned neighbors and fellow students, and even informative books to extend a cultural helping hand so we all have a win-win situation.

    One such new award-winning worldwide book/ebook that reaches out to help anyone coming to the US is “What Foreigners Need To Know About America From A To Z: How to Understand Crazy American Culture, People, Government, Business, Language and More.” It is used in foreign Fulbright student programs and endorsed worldwide by ambassadors, educators, and editors. It also identifies “foreigners” who became successful in the US and how they’ve contributed to our society, including students.

    A chapter on education explains how to be accepted to an American university and cope with a confusing new culture, friendship process and daunting classroom differences. Some stay after graduation. It has chapters that explain how US businesses operate and how to get a job (which differs from most countries), a must for those who want to work with/for an American firm here or overseas.

    It also has chapters that identify the most common English grammar and speech problems foreigners have and tips for easily overcoming them, the number one stumbling block they say they have to succeeding here.

    Good luck to all at USC or wherever you study or wherever you come from, because that is the TRUE spirit of the American PEOPLE, not a few in government who have the loudest voice!

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