Life as an undocumented student

By Rogelio Alvarez

Never take voting for granted because many undocumented students like myself feel powerless against anti-immigration laws because we cannot vote. East Los Angeles College students, faculty and staff affected by the current anti-immigration laws should stand together in solidarity and oppose xenophobia.

ELAC is a sanctuary campus and students can feel at ease knowing they can attend their classes without worrying about an immigration raid. No one should deal with this problem alone when it affects millions of undocumented people living the United States.

President Donald Trump plans to add 5000 Border Patrol agents and 10,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers to carry out deportations. Early in his presidency, Trump signed an executive order banning refugees seeking resettlement in the United States for 120 days and prohibiting any Syrian refugees from entering indefinitely. It also bans citizens from Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan and Libya.

It’s difficult not to feel helpless when you and your family are at risk of being separated every day. Undocumented people are ineligible to vote and it’s hard to voice our concerns without the fear of being detained.

Thanks to former president Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), I was able to get a work permit which made it easier for me to find a job and not worry about being deported.

Even though Trump showed sympathy for DACA recipients in a recent press conference, I am not content because many of my family members, friends, neighbors and colleagues are at risk of being deported. Daniel Ramirez, a n undocumented immigrant, was protected from deportation thanks to DACA, but was detained by ICE officers. I once again felt helpless and feared being detained even though I have DACA. After Trump won the election, many students, faculty and staff gathered in front of the Ernest H. Moreno E3 building in solidarity to voice their disapproval of Trump’s presidency.

As a first-generation immigrant and the first person in my family to attend college, it was heartwarming to see many Elans showing their support for immigrants. 

Students, faculty and staff advocating for immigrants should continue to do so.

They are the voice for millions who of undocumented students who’s voices are unheard. Immigration sympathizers play an important role in politics because they are eligible to vote for laws that directly affect undocumented students.

The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles is an organization that offers workshops informing people of their rights in case they get detained. Upcoming workshop dates can be found on

ELAC opened a new campus program called the Dream Resource Center. The Dream Resource Center offers free legal assistance with the DACA application. Any undocumented student, not just DACA, are encouraged to go to the Dream Resource Center with any questions or concerns.

The ELAC Student Resource Center is located E1-176. For more information call (323) 780-6800.

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