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Student Who Fears Deportation
October 24, 2018
Sitting and eating lunch, a typical Hispanic family enjoys each others presence, until the possibility of staying together could be ripped away with just one question: “Do you have your documents with you?”
“I remember the first time I saw border patrol with my parents. We were at a Subway and we were having food when my parents suddenly became really silent… you could see the fear, they were so uneasy,” expresses Carlos Mendoza, whose parents were previously undocumented.
Both his parents immigrated in their teens, yet it took them about eight years to become citizens.
“My parents applied to be citizens when I was in second or third grade and since then they had to take a lot of classes, talk to their lawyer, see if it would work out and it wasn’t until three years ago that they got their citizenship,” explains Mendoza.
I carry my passport everywhere I go just because it’s been ingrained in me that I need to have a document to prove this is my home.”
— Carlos Mendoza
It is a very lengthy process for an immigrant to get their citizenship and even once they do Mendoza feels that there is still paranoia because they can still all be deported.
Mendoza was born in the United States, but he remains very concerned for himself and his parents. “I know I’m a citizen, I was born here, but whenever I encounter an officer there’s always that fear. I carry my passport everywhere I go just because it’s been ingrained in me that I need to have a document to prove this is my home,” said Mendoza.
Before gaining citizenship, many restrictions were keeping Mendoza’s family from doing much outside of the house. “We couldn’t go past San Clemente because past that there’s checkpoints. I have family members that won’t even go to the beach anymore that often. There’s always that constant fear,” claims Mendoza.
“My parents immigrated to have a better life and there’s people immigrating because of safety,” said Mendoza. But these people are just as likely to be deported as someone who is a criminal. According to NBC News, under President Donald Trump’s administration, the amount of deported immigrants with no criminal record has tripled. “It shouldn’t be that way… [the government should] try to understand why they came here,” explains Mendoza.
Out of Mendoza’s family, his parents and siblings are the only ones documented. “So if anything were to happen we would be the only ones left here,” said Mendoza, and the rest of his extended family would be stuck in a helpless situation.
Many fears come from just the idea of deportation Mendoza explains.
“There’s that fear of, ‘if I leave where are my kids going to go? Where is my stuff going to go?’” expresses Mendoza. Parents immigrate usually to provide a better life for their children but if they are deported all that they have worked for, and their children can be ripped away from them.
“We’re very privileged with [being born in the U.S.]. A lot of my cousins are DREAMERS and under [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA], and [deportation] is a nag, it’s always pulling on you,” claims Mendoza.
There have been several attempts to remove DACA, however it protects almost 700,000 people. “People are trying to get rid of DACA but these children grew up here… they know nothing else,” explains Mendoza.
The main restriction of deportation, besides the constant fear, is traveling. “I have a friend that can’t go on the Senior trip because she’s undocumented and the trip is out of the country,” said Mendoza and “[My family] travels a lot… but we can’t really go past state lines.”
“[Deportation] brings us really close together, we’re always watching out for each other,” explains Mendoza.
There’s that fear of, ‘if I leave where are my kids going to go? Where is my stuff going to go?’”
— Carlos Mendoza
Several organizations at SJHHS also watch out for and take care of the Hispanic community. “There’s a lot of students who are applying [to colleges] and their parents know how to help… but I’m in six different programs to help me since my parents didn’t go through it,” claims Mendoza.
Mendoza pushes himself and takes AP classes that is not usual of Latino students. “I’ll talk to everyone in the classes, but once we leave the classroom we live in separate worlds. It’s not the same,” said Mendoza. The fear of deportation is much more weighing than the fear of getting an F which is typical of students in high school.
As a white student sits at a restaurant, they don’t carry their passport and they don’t fear that their parents could be taken away at any moment but a Hispanic student, as Mendoza sees it, is often fearful of deportation and the random appearance of the border patrol can strike terror in their hearts.