No Papers, Many Hurdles

By Erica Perez
There are always many obstacles and challenges before success. Some students have more obstacles than others to get to college. There are some students here at McNary who have a fear that they shouldn’t have, deportation.
Every child in this country has the right to a public education up until the end of high school, after that their future academic possibilities become uncertain. Doors begin to close, and the possibility of a higher education is slim.
Chris Gonzalez*, an undocumented student here at McNary, who is from Mexico came to the United States eleven years ago. He said that it isn’t hard for him to come to school, because he feels safe coming to here. There is only one thing that Gonzalez can complain about. “The lack of options for after high school, there’s no motivation.” Gonzalez said.
Maria*, another undocumented student, was born in Chilapa  which is located in the Mexican state of Guerrerro. She came here 16 years ago with her parents on a tourist pass, so they didn’t come illegally. Both her parents went to college and her mother has a medical degree. Maria wishes to follow in her mom’s footsteps.
She’s been researching. All money for higher education comes out of pocket. She doesn’t qualify for scholarships. Her dad uses an analogy to describe this. A documented person and an undocumented person go to war. They both have the most powerful weapon, a shotgun. If the documented person’s shotgun fails, they have whole arsenal of other weapons to choose from. If it happens to be the undocumented person’s gun that fails… they die in the war. The shotgun represents a students grades. The war, the battle, for higher education.
Every child has the right by law to have an education, but after high school, these undocumented students don’t have any opportunity to a higher level of education, and many are forced to get jobs that aren’t the best, instead of going to college to potentially get a career.
With Gonzalez being a senior this year, he has started to plan his future for after high school. Right now, he plans to attend Chemeketa Community College, and then plans to transfer to Western Oregon University. But Gonzalez still has motivation to keep up with his grades, “the harder you work, the more doors are opened,” Gonzalez said. He also has the hope of having the Dream Act of being passed, which would allow many undocumented students like Gonzalez, to get conditional residency for them to go to college.
Life may seem normal, but there will always be the fear of getting caught and being deported. Gonzalez has been in the United States for eleven years, and even though he has been in the country for such a long time, he and his family still have to take precautions.
“While driving, we drive slow and carefully, and we’re careful in not making any errors on the road,” Gonzalez said. With the possibility of deportation comes Gonzalez’s biggest fear of having his family separated. This fear is not uncommon with undocumented families. There are countless number of families who are scared of being separated from their families, and there are many families that have experienced separation from their families.
In some of the country’s states it’s getting tough for undocumented people to live in, with all of the anti-immigration laws that have been passed. When asked about the anti-immigration laws, Gonzalez said, “I don’t know why they’re doing it. I don’t think we’re taking their jobs away, and if  immigrants have jobs, it’s because they’re qualified for the job.”
“It seems like people from here have a fixed image of immigrants. Ignorant, dark-skinned, not smart. But not all of them are like that,” Maria said.
English teacher, Mrs. Linda Baker has expressed her support for undocumented students. She feels that all of the anti-immigration laws are ridiculous. The government wants to kick off every single immigrant out of the country, but immigrants still have to pay the same taxes that a legal citizen has to pay. Baker believes that the undocumented students are not at fault for being here. “They’re here because their parents brought them here, and they had no choice.” Baker believes that because of this, there are two level of societies in our country, and this makes the country Un-United. “This is a country of immigrants.”
Gonzalez has many hopes for the future of the country and immigrants. “I hope they cancel all the anti-immigration laws, and for them to see all the damage they’ve done to the community.”
And Maria finishes, “All I want is to go to school here, that’s it.”

*Name has been changed for the protection of student identities
Amanda Potts contributed to this story

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