Tag Archives: daca

DACA affects our community

By Jacob Kahn-Samuelson

Staff Writer

Donald Trump announced on Sept. 5 that he will not be renewing DACA and instead will let it expire; that decision created an ongoing legal battle that affects hundreds of thousands of immigrants across the United States, including many in San Jose.

DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals; those who qualify for DACA are allowed to get work permits and are placed at the bottom of the Department of Homeland Security priority list, protecting them from deportation for a period of two years. (You can read more about the program on the USCIS website.)

DACA was a major part of the budget debate, and the federal government shut down for three days (ending on Jan. 22) because the two sides could not reach an agreement. The government was later reopened after a deal between the Republicans and Democrats that bought the two sides three more weeks to negotiate.

As of Jan. 24, Politico reported that Senate Democrats have agreed to not insist on having a DACA bill as part of the budget agreement, with the minority whip in the Senate stating, “We’re viewing [immigration and spending] on separate terms because they are on separate paths.” DACA, however, might still be addressed. As reported in the Washington Times, David Perdue, a Senate Republican from Georgia, talked about the possibilities for DACA: “I give the president high marks for bringing a focus to this issue, not trying to solve every problem relative to the immigration problem, but to focus this on the legal immigration system, and I think we’ve got an opportunity to do that.”

The significance of this decision is shown by Representative Tom Cole, a Republican from Oklahoma, who said in the Politico report: “The phrase used to me [is], ‘We’re six inches away from a spending deal.’ It’s just simply the DACA issue and the immigration question.” Before the announcement from Senate Democrats, it was thought that DACA was the major disagreement holding up the spending bill. Now debate continues on when Majority Leader Mitch McConnell might keep his promise to bring the issue up for debate.

Meanwhile, confusion about immigration law reigns. “Getting a green card is as easy as getting a driver’s license,” said Erika Rivera, an immigration attorney in the Bay Area, when asked about the most common misconception about immigration law.

Erika Rivera Headshot

Immigration Attorney Erika Rivera

She explained the requirements to qualify for DACA: “There are seven: Be in school or graduated from high school, college, have a GED or be honorably discharged from the military. You must come to the U.S. before you turn 16. You must be physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012. You must be physically present in the U.S. from June 15, 2007 until present day. You must be under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012. You cannot have been convicted of a felony, be convicted of a significant misdemeanor or be convicted for three or more misdemeanors. You cannot be considered a threat to U.S. national security or public safety. Lastly, you cannot have legal status in the U.S. as of June 15, 2012.” 

Ms. Rivera said DACA “has given 800,000 people work authorization, bringing more people into the workforce. I have clients who are engineers and clients who are working at Google. It has brought attention to the issue. It has changed people’s perception of immigrants.”

She said the economic impact of ending DACA will be “significant. On top of that, there is already a lot of fear from immigrants, and it has caused more fear from the immigrant community. If the government won’t be nice to the immigrant Dreamers, who will it be nice to?” 

Ms. Rivera said DACA changed her job: “When it happened, it made work a little crazier because people wanted to get in quickly. Now that it has been taken away, you have to be more creative and look for other statuses that your client qualifies for.”

She recommended that those who are facing the expiration of their DACA status take the following steps: “They should speak with an employment rights attorney so they can find new ways to work. They should also consult with an immigration attorney before the DACA expires. Basically ask questions and get help. Finally make an effort to put pressure on the elected officials.” 

Ms. Rivera said Donald Trump has made her job “way more stressful and adds a new element. I have spent more time calming people down.” When asked about the cause of the large undocumented immigrant population in the United States right now, she said, “I think it has changed over time but predominantly is economic. But more recently there has been increased violence.”

She was not optimistic about Donald Trump’s immigration policy legacy, saying, “I think it will be worse. He cancelled DACA and TPS (the policy helping the Salvadorans fleeing the earthquake). I think he will continue to find things he can act unilaterally on without Congress. I am scared we will see a large increase in immigration raids. I hope the Democrats win back the House and Senate and they can stave off some of his rigid immigration policies.”

On Trump’s justification for getting rid of DACA, Ms. Rivera said, “Trump’s justification for getting rid of DACA was claiming that DACA was never constitutional. Trump claims that Obama’s executive orders were unconstitutional about DACA.”

Ms. Rivera hypothesized about what will happen next with DACA:  “I don’t think a lot will happen. If they do something it will likely come at the expense of other groups. (Border Wall, Chain Migration, etc.) What’s particularly scary is Trump has been attacking the legal immigration policies. This makes me question who would be able to come. I understand immigration needs change, but it shouldn’t be blown up by Trump.”

Ms. Rivera added, “Immigrants in general bring a different culture and bring different experiences. They bring a good work ethic and believe in the American Dream.”

Ruby Ramirez, the program director for the organization Amigos de Guadalupe, said the large undocumented immigrant population in the United States has various causes: “The word is ‘need.’ Something that is interesting for me is that my background is my parents came from Mexico and were undocumented. My father was born on a ranch in Mexico. My husband was born in Mexico and was born in a city. For me, it has been very interesting to see how when I visit my father’s family they talk about needing to come to the United States. In my husband’s family are not interested in coming to the U.S. They are interested in vacationing in the U.S. but only for a few weeks. The difference I have noticed between the two is the need for jobs, education and health services. When I meet families who have left their country of origin, 90 percent of the families want to provide more for their kids.”

Ms. Ramirez said DACA has directly affected her job: “We have DACA interns that work here. So part of it is the ability to be able to work with those students. The difference between the work I can do with a student who is a DACA recipient and a student who is ineligible for DACA is the DACA recipient can do internships anywhere, and they can go to any college. There’s a lot of opportunity for the DACA recipients. For a Dreamer who will not be able to qualify for DACA, they will not be able to do the internships at large companies, and they cannot get opportunities outside of California. And students who will not qualify for DACA will have a mental health impact on them. There is a level of fear and depression that we have to address with the students. I believe that it is completely wrong that we are unable to look at a young person and not be able to tell them sky’s the limit.” 

Ruby Ramirez Headshot

Ruby Ramirez, program director for Amigos de Guadalupe

Ms. Ramirez offered advice to someone whose DACA is expiring: “Fight. The students that we work with, we are teaching them to have on their radar what is happening each day with DACA; they then report the information to me.  We talk about solutions, i.e. what will happen if DACA does and does not pass, to protect themselves and fight for what is right. And we are teaching them how to mobilize and bring their fellow classmates and neighbors and how to get together with other Dreamers around the United States. In order to build a movement, to pass legislation that will protect all undocumented immigrants.”

Ms. Ramirez then talked about immigrants’ effects on the community: “Immigrants affect the community like everyone else. We pay taxes and work. The U.S. culture exists because of generations of immigrants that have come into this country.”

Ms. Ramirez then talked about what she thought Donald Trump’s immigration legacy will be: “I believe that Trump will pass some form of immigration reform. I don’t know what will be inside of it but I think that we will see something. That in itself, the fact that he has a legacy on immigration (more detentions happening, removing temporary protective status for some countries, his whole talk about the wall), we will see the word ‘wall’ for the rest of our lives. But I think the wall symbolizes a president who wants the U.S. to be isolated from the rest of the world. And that idea will be his legacy.”

Amigos De Guadalupe Website Screenshot

The Amigos de Guadalupe’s website shows their programs.

Ms. Ramirez talked about the impact of DACA on the country as a whole: “Like was said earlier, it has allowed the youth to be part of the building of this country. Ending it, I think, will take us steps back. Trump will go, and we will continue to fight for legislation to protect the undocumented youth and family.”

When asked what will happen next with DACA, Ms. Ramirez said: “That is a really good question. I think it will get stuck in court. For some reason I don’t think Trump will get rid of DACA. I think on March 5th he won’t be able to get anything passed, and he will give an extension to DACA.”

On the biggest misconceptions about immigrants, Ms. Ramirez said: “That we are here to take something from Americans. That immigrants don’t contribute anything to our society.”

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This sign asks members of the community to report ICE activity.

Summit Tahoma Executive Director Jonathan Stewart explained the support systems for children at the school who are undocumented or whose families are undocumented: “We offer direct support for students when they are doing college and financial aid applications. That is the clearest example of how we directly support them.”

When asked about keeping track of families’ immigration status, Mr. Stewart said, “We don’t keep track of their legal status. I am not sure if by law we are allowed to keep track of their legal status. And us not keeping track allows us to stay out of tricky legal situations. Ultimately, we want to focus on to help the students learn and grow – the school’s goal is not to become involved with legal issues.”

When asked about the monitoring of ICE activity in the area and how the school would protect a student or family who ICE is looking for, Mr. Stewart said, “We don’t have protocol for monitoring that. We keep in touch informally with families. If anything does happen with families at the school, we are notified. I have been in  a group with other principals that involves the police. We meet monthly to discuss school safety and discuss any law enforcement that is relevant to the schools. No one has ever brought up ICE raids in the group.” 


Mr. Stewart, Principle at Summit Tahoma

When asked about whether or not Trump’s immigration policies have affected the kids or families at school, Mr. Stewart said, “Yeah, it has. There was a lot of concern among students and faculty about how it would impact people at the school. And his actions have concerned them further. In one case, a student’s mother is being mistreated by her employer but does not have much recourse because she is undocumented. Another person at school has a family member who is under threat to be deported, and it is difficult to do your best when you or your family member is at risk to be deported.”

Mr. Stewart added, “It has given some of our students that benefited from the program a boost when applying for college, because it gives them hope about the American Dream, and they can get the same support as their citizen peers. DACA just gives young people the space to imagine and work towards their future in the U.S. DACA ending might diminish the hope, but it will not take away from the hope. We are a hopeful school, and it will not take away the hope from the students.”  

Over email, Summit Rainier Spanish teacher Angel Barragan talked about how DACA has personally affected him: “DACA has affected me greatly, both in negative and positive ways. I am a DACA recipient and therefore I am able to teach, drive, pay taxes and more due to the privileges it brought me. Unfortunately I also have felt what it’s like to lose those privileges, back in 2015 my work permit was not renewed on time and I ended up having to leave the classroom for about a month. It was a devastating time not just for me but also for the members of the community I work for.”

Mr. Barragan Headshot

Angel Barragan, Spanish teacher at Summit Rainier

Mr. Barragan said DACA ending would impact him: “If DACA were to end, I would be unable to sustain myself or help out my family. I know there are students their families that are able to thrive because of DACA, so if it were to end we would all take a huge hit to what we are able to accomplish.”

“I think the biggest way that Donald Trump has affected me (besides DACA) is the perspective he has brought on undocumented migration. Even from before his presidency he was spreading some form of hate that pushes one group of people against another,” Mr. Barragan stated.

Mr. Barragan then stated what he thought Donald Trump’s immigration legacy would be: “There has a been a huge amount of hate that has spread since and it makes living under my label hard. I’m not sure what Trump’s legacy will be, I hope the country can look back in shame to an extent at how some of the racist point of views have gotten so far. I do hope love stems out of this, people coming together against bigotry.”

Non-native English speakers face a life-long struggle

By Sophia Nguyen

Staff Writer


Tahoma freshman Anja Azizaj

Anja Azizaj, a freshman student at Summit Tahoma, recalled the time when she first came to America from Albania. The first day of school is always daunting, but the experience was all the more so to a kindergartner who had moved across the world to a different country. She was forced to take tests in English, a seemingly nonsensical language compared to the one she had spoken for years.

Subsequently, Azizaj could not ask for help because she did not speak English. No one could understand her, and no one could help her. Her mother would come pick her up at school because she would eventually break down in confusion. Azizaj shared about the absence of her culture in her current community, saying, “In California, there aren’t many Albanians.”


Tahoma freshman Alina Afroz

That memory might seem aged for Azizaj, but that same struggle remains for many English Language Learner students. Summit Public School: Tahoma prides itself on offering an excellent education for every student, “regardless of race, neighborhood or prior academic experience.” Tahoma freshman Alina Afroz said, “Summit Tahoma has a very diverse, supportive community of students.”

In Nov. 2016, a Los Angeles Times article stated, “Less than 5 percent of California public schools now offer multilingual programs, though there are now 1.4 million English learners.” Proposition 58 was then passed to overturn Proposition 227, which had required English learners to learn in English only. Now, schools can establish their own multilingual programs.

Summit Tahoma’s small student body consists of 340 students, approximately 16 percent of whom are not classified as proficient in English. According to the California Department of Education, 86.8 percent of ELL students in California schools speak Spanish, Vietnamese or Mandarin. Although students bring a large variety of culture and language to school, the focus of multilingual programs is simply to help students until they are proficient in English.


Tahoma Executive Director Jonathan Stewart

When asked about options Summit Tahoma offers to ELL students, Executive Director Jonathan Stewart said, “For a group of students whose English level which is still beginner or not proficient, they are placed in a special Summit Reads class with Dr. McNeil. Dr. McNeil has a PhD in language acquisition.” Tahoma freshman Yiqing Bo, who is an ELL student, said reading English material helps her in class considerably.

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Tahoma freshman Yiqing Bo

At Summit Tahoma, personalized learning encourages students to learn at a pace suitable for themselves. “Because this school is smaller than other schools, teacher[s] can focus on students and give more help. I also like the PLT system because I can learn by reading,” Bo said.

The close-knit community allows multilingual teachers to communicate with students. Tahoma math teacher Thao Nguyen said, “It’s fun for [students] to ask me where I’m from and connect better. Even students I don’t teach, like a junior, can ask me because we share something in common.” Teachers offer educational help, as well as support through hardships.


Tahoma math teacher Thao Nguyen

Non-native English speakers who teach can sympathize with the struggles ELL students feel. “In most classes, I wasn’t able to participate early, and I barely talk[ed] in front of class. It took me a long time to finish a sentence because I was still translating from Vietnamese in my head,” Ms. Nguyen said. Many non-native English speakers, teachers and students alike, have difficulties with speaking two languages due to translating.

Some multilingual people struggle with balancing their use of multiple languages and prioritize one language over another. “Sometimes, my Chinese slow down my English. Teachers always say I need to practice more English,” Bo said. For Azizaj, one solution is “speaking Albanian at home and speaking English at school.”

Many recognize the significance of multilingual options for students. The earlier approach of language immersion did bring up English proficiency at first, but multilingual education was seen differently by the time Proposition 227 passed. In the aforementioned Los Angeles Times article, the California Teachers Association president Eric Heins stated, “We are really a diverse state now, and we are participating in a worldwide economy. For our students to only know one language puts them at a disadvantage.” Proposition 227 taught English at the expense of highly valued bilingual skills.

The initial concern was the ELL students would not become English proficient. However, a Stanford report from 2014 discovered “students in English-immersion classrooms perform better than those in two-language classrooms in the early grades, but those in the two-language programs catch up to or even surpass their counterparts by middle school.” Not only do the Reclassified Fluent English Proficient students match the English Only students, but they surpass them.


Tahoma Spanish teacher Laura Ochoa

Outside of school, multilingual job candidates are highly valued, especially for positions focused on translation. In addition, speaking multiple languages opens doors to professions abroad. When asked about the benefits of being bilingual, Tahoma Spanish teacher Laura Ochoa commented, “I taught in Africa, English, and I taught in Ecuador, English. When I had applied for a job, they only had Spanish available. I thought ‘I could do that,’ and I ended up loving it.”

Ms. Ochoa said, “Learning another language is a lot easier when you speak two languages.” Certain languages have similar origins and are structurally similar. A study from the Science Daily journal found “fluency and skills in one language assist in the language acquisition of a second language, and possessing skills in two languages can boost the learning process of a third language.”

For Azizaj, one advantage is being able to communicate with family. Azizaj said, “My mom has a heavy accent, so it’s difficult when she talks. My dad doesn’t want to speak English so my sister and I don’t forget Albanian.” For families who emigrate, it is crucial to keep in touch with their culture, particularly so when they leave behind lives in different countries. “I think it was a good idea to move to America because the system over in Albania is very corrupted,” Azizaj said. 

Many see America as the epitome of high-quality education. Ms. Ochoa said, “My parents grew up in a third-world country, so it was very poor. America and Mexico are totally different places.” Students choose education in America for advantages they would not have in other countries. “When I was young, I was always curious how the American education system looked like,” Ms. Nguyen said. 


Ms. Nguyen assists students in math.

When asked why she chose to teach in America, Ms. Nguyen said, “In the future, I want to go back to Vietnam at some point and bring back what I learned from America and apply that in Vietnam and see if that helps the students in Vietnam. In Vietnam, the students study very hard but the society is very far behind despite the fact that the students study harder than students in America.” ELL students and teachers have the opportunity to share what they learn between multiple communities.

In return, everyone in the community supports each other to help ELL students. This is especially important in California, where there is a large multilingual community. Bo explained one way peers and teachers could help, saying, “Maybe [have] some more explanation because sometimes, when they first say, I don’t understand.” The acceptance and support of non-native English speakers is essential for younger generations.


Ms. Ochoa answers questions for freshman students.

The administration’s actions against the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program have greatly impacted the ELL community. As a result, many people will lose opportunities, and America will lose many hopefuls. In an article from the New York Times, Vanessa Luna stated, “‘We’re going to lose leaders and lose teachers — it’s not only their presence, but having a teacher tha[t] can share the same experiences that you possibly had growing up,’” People directly affected by DACA bring variety to San Jose.

The presence of diverse and unique individuals allows Summit Tahoma and San Jose to develop as future generations flourish. Afroz said, “Many people who attend Tahoma are bilingual, which makes a friendly environment for all students to have a successful high school time.” Teachers have a fundamental role in creating an environment for success. Ms. Nguyen shared her goal as a teacher, saying, “ I want to help the next generation.”





A Dreamer speaks out

By Nicolas Medina

Staff Writer

Angel Barragan, a Spanish teacher at Summit Public School: Rainier in San Jose, gave his perspective on being a Dreamer and the Trump Administration’s policy of ending DACA. DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. DACA is a program for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. before they were 16 to work, go to school and obtain a driver’s license legally. People who have been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor or three or more misdemeanors cannot qualify to be part of DACA.

  1. Where is your family from and why did they choose to move to the United States?

My family came to the U.S. in search of a better life. I used to live in a small town in Mexico. Our house didn’t have running water or a roof, so my parents came here first and later brought us.”

  1. How old were you when you came into the United States?

“I was 10 years old when I came to the U.S.”

  1. What was it like growing up as a Dreamer?

“Growing up as a Dreamer was hard. We were pretty low income, and we had to work hard in order to accomplish anything that we wanted. It got harder the older that I got, and [I] began to notice the different privileges my friends had and I was lacking.”

  1. Was being a Dreamer difficult compared to other kids growing up?

“It was very difficult, in ways hard to explain – in ways that I felt very different than the people around me. I wanted to be able to have a regular life like everyone else did, but I couldn’t. I lived in an immigrant home where there were six to seven people living at a time. I was sharing a room with my brother and my parents and it was very abnormal, but that’s what I thought was normal. I think it became harder once I started becoming older and realizing I couldn’t do the same thing that my peers kept doing. My best friends were applying for jobs and were getting driver’s licenses, and I couldn’t do that legally. It was really hard.”

  1. How was applying to college as a Dreamer?

I went to a Summit school. I went to the first Summit School, Summit Prep, and I was told that I was going to be able to apply to schools and that everything is going to be fine. They told me not [to] worry about the money and when I applied to schools, I applied to private schools because I thought they were going to be able to help me the most.” Mr. Barragan went on to add that even though he wanted to go to private schools, he had no financial aid so he could not afford to attend. He thought he had to give up on his dream of going to college, but he found out some good news.“I got accepted to San Francisco State, and I was able to get a [full-ride] scholarship. I was one of the lucky ones that [were] able to put that together. All the other Dreamers that I knew were applying to schools at the same time, [with] the same circumstances, [but] were not able to make it, so it was very hard and very sad at the same time and it was a lot of work.”

  1. What do you think about President Trump’s position that illegal immigrants are stealing American jobs, resources, education, healthcare and are increasing the crime rate?

“Well, first we don’t want to use the term ‘illegal immigrant’ or ‘illegal’ in general. There are two reasons why. We don’t want to say that any human being is illegal, and, second of all, that term has been used historically to take away the humanity of people when they are talking about things. For example, if somebody says that we rounded up a bunch of illegals and we deported them, it sounds very different from saying we rounded up people and we took them out of here. So we want to say ‘undocumented’ instead when we get the opportunity to do that, or even ‘immigrant’. I think that’s coming from a lot of misinformation on what immigrants are doing here in the U.S., especially dreamers.  Anybody who has Deferred Action, anybody who is in the Deferred Action Program or were in the Deferred Action Program doesn’t have any felonies, doesn’t have any crimes; if they had any, they wouldn’t be able to apply for that program in general. All of them are educated or getting educated or during the process of finding a way of getting educated, and they are contributing members of society because they need to pay taxes, and they are not even able to benefit from a lot of the things they are paying for, which I think is something people don’t understand. People think that anybody can just apply for Deferred Action, anybody can just apply to these programs and that we are benefiting in a way other people can’t. The other misinformation comes from just the way that people think that you can just apply for citizenship in general and people are assuming that if you had Deferred Action for five years why can’t you just become a citizen, why don’t you just apply for it, and the truth is there isn’t a way to do that yet. So when our current president is continuing to misinform the American public and push forward that agenda, that is hurtful for our communities. It’s something that is really upsetting to me in general, more from my students that are starting to grow up, us undocumented and Dreamers in our society, and from myself because I have already been through it. I went to college, I went through the job application, I went through applying for DACA, I went through a lot of racist things happening to me in general and in different classrooms, but I feel a lot for my students who are about to embark on this journey and this misinformation that has been sent out to them, for others to make them think that they are criminals or anything else when in reality they are just American. They grew up here, they don’t know any other country other than the U.S. and they don’t plan on going anywhere, so when the president is saying that stuff it’s just hurtful and in general it is very dis-empowering I guess, it’s really hard to know as an educator what I should do to support my kids.”

  1. The Trump Administration has stopped accepting new recipients to DACA. What do you think President Trump will do next?

“He stopped receiving new recipients, but he also ended the program in general, so that means when my Deferred Action status ends I won’t be able to renew it, that means I won’t be able to continue working, that means I won’t be able to continue teaching, that means I potentially won’t be able to stay here in the U.S. and the scariest part is that in applying for Deferred Action Program a lot of us gave out information to the government and that means that if the immigration services wanted to locate us and do something, they will be able to find us pretty easily because they have all of our information already. In California it might be a little different, we have a lot of support in California, but you never know. In terms what he is going to do next, I don’t know, he is very unpredictable. This one was predictable, we knew this one was coming for a long time, we were hoping it wasn’t, but we prepared the best we could. I don’t know if he is going to do anything about immigration in general to try to help people out and sort of put it on Congress for them to figure it out. So I don’t think I can tell you what he is going to do next. I can tell you that people are really scared that he is going to take it a step further and actually try to, like not just end the program but like go a step farther and end the people currently being protected right now.”

  1. How has DACA affected your ability to work?

“Before I had DACA I wasn’t able to work, I was going to school as a full-time student in college until my junior year and it was very hard, I couldn’t call my family, I didn’t have an income. After DACA came in, I felt more empowered to go out and to be a contributing member of society in whichever way I could, so I was able to work, I was able to help my family and help out myself and that’s the whole reason why I was able to pursue my dream of becoming a teacher. So DACA gave me an opportunity to be able to pursue my dreams. Now that DACA is ending I’m not sure what’s going to happen next. I don’t know what I’m going to do. There currently isn’t a way to fix my status, so I’m not sure, in March of 2019 when my status ends if I will be able to continue teaching or if I’m going to have to find something else to do or if I will even be able to stay in the country.”

  1. Do you think President Trump should leave the DACA Executive Action as it is or should Congress pass a permanent resolution?

“We would love for a permanent resolution to come up, unfortunately President Trump already took Deferred Action away. I think it is very unlikely they will put it back in place. I actually wouldn’t mind if it was back in place, but ideally we want Congress to do something for a permanent solution. Deferred Action goes by every two years; you have to renew it, and it’s really expensive, and it’s an Executive Order you know, any president can take it away at any moment, so it’s really uneasy about how we can keep ourselves and our family safe. Ideally we would like Congress to do something.”

  1. Is there anything else that I should know?

“No, I think the only part that I really want other students to know is the importance of making sure we are throwing out the correct information about what Deferred Action is and how people are being affected by it. Deferred Action is for people who came here as children, they grew up in America, they grew up in the United States, this is what they know like everybody else and they want to be here and they want to contribute to society. A lot of the misinformation that has been thrown out there is saying they are stealing jobs, that they are benefiting from stuff that other people are not getting, that taxpayers are paying our way through and those things aren’t true at all. In reality anybody that’s in Deferred Action wants to be here and that’s why they apply for that status, while knowing that it’s not a path to citizenship, but it’s a path to be able to work and to pay taxes and to be part of the community in general. So I think that’s what I want people to know and what I want you to bring a lot of light to some of the misinformation that’s been thrown out there, there isn’t a path to citizenship, there isn’t a way for us to fix the situation and this was the best shot for us right now to be able to live normal lives, so hopefully we can do that a little better.”


Immigrant DACA recipient speaks on current issues regarding immigration


Immigrant DACA recipient speaks on current issues regarding immigration

By Giovanni Ochoa

Staff Writer

Angel Barragan is a Spanish teacher at Summit Public School: Rainier in San Jose. He moved to the United States from Mexico when he was 10 years old. He has been protected under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, otherwise known as DACA, for the past couple of years, and it being removed has affected him directly.

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Rainier Spanish teacher Angel Barragan

1. Do you think the life of immigrants has changed drastically in the past couple  months?

“I think since the election of our new president, the lives of immigrants have gotten significantly worse. Or maybe not significantly, but more difficult because of the stigma that immigrants have right now. Whereas, with our previous president, it was a very safe place for us to be just around, but there’s a lot of negativity and a lot of hate that has sprung since.” Mr. Barragan went on to add that since Deferred Action was taken away, a lot of immigrants no longer have protection from deportation, making their lives more hectic. 

2. Do you believe that all the talk currently revolving around immigrants has scared them from speaking out on the issue?

“Yes and no – I think it’s fifty-fifty. Pretty much there is a large group of immigrants that are becoming really empowered, and they’re becoming more outspoken to try to resist against what’s happening. That, and the voice of a lot of people that are allies to the immigrants, but there is another part of the same group that’s scared of something happening to them, so they’ve instead silenced themselves to try to keep themselves safe.”

3. How will the life of immigrants be affected in the future and their future kids? 

“I think things are gonna get harder before they get any better. There needs to be some serious changes [and] some serious reform in order to help protect those immigrants that are being affected. I think if things continue the way they’re going with the hate and the misinformation, more people are going to be feeling isolated and be hurt before we’re able to get to a place of peace.”

4. Do you believe it is fair that immigrants were treated this way?

“No, I think it’s very unfair that anybody is being treated this way. I think it really speaks out especially when you think about the way that immigrants are being categorized right now. There are two ways to call somebody that comes from another country to the U.S. without proper documentation. One of them [is that] they’re usually called illegal aliens, illegal immigrants or they’re called undocumented (usually by a different group of people). I think using the term ‘illegal’ to call a group of immigrants sets the precedent for how they’re being treated badly. In the media, when you talk [about] incidents that are happening to people who are migrating here without proper documentation… something horrible happens and they just call them ‘illegals’. It kind of takes away the humanity to make it look like it’s OK [to say] a bunch of illegals died in the border. Right, it doesn’t even sound that bad because you don’t even think about them as people, but if you say a bunch of people died crossing the border, then you think about it differently. Like, ‘Oh snap, this is a big deal. People are being affected.’ Just starting with the way people are being called sets a precedent for the unfairness and the inhumanity of how they are being treated.”

5. How do you think the issues surrounding immigrants can be resolved? How can the community help?

“I think shining a light on the issues and clearing misinformation are two of the most important things that we can do right now. I would like to say that there should be a path to citizenship that should start tomorrow, but that is very unlikely. Things that we could do right now is clear the misinformation that is happening because there is a lot of information out there that is not true,” Mr. Barragan said. “[For example,] about the support that undocumented immigrants get … people are saying that we get a free pass to college, that we get food stamps and that we get this and that, which is just not true. We don’t get anything more. In fact, we actually get less than people who are actually born here, but people don’t know that. People are passing around these things like the idea that we are criminals or the idea that we’re here taking somebody else’s jobs or that we even have a home to go back to. This is the information that’s being passed through. Talking about my own experiences, if I were to leave the United States where would I go? I can’t go back to Mexico. I don’t know Mexico. I haven’t been there. My entire life has been here in the U.S., but people say, ‘Just go back to your country’ [or] ‘Just go back to your home,’ but this is my home. The other part is shining a light [on] people [who] are being affected in a way that is hard to comprehend. If that’s outside of your regular life understanding, that somebody may lose their job and may not be able to survive, or that they don’t have a path to even fix their status, [those are] things that people don’t understand, and we need to shine a light on them.”

6. Do you believe immigrants are informed? How can we inform them?

“I don’t think a lot of immigrants are informed. I think there’s a stigma [on] talking about things. Back in 2008 or [200]9, there was a movement called Stepping Out From The Shadows. It [about] was standing out as undocumented, and this is a time when a lot of people who are Dreamers came out of the shadows per se and said out loud in public spaces that they were undocumented. I think movements like that help people or immigrants become educated, but new immigrants that have come recently, older immigrants or people who haven’t been in the educational system shy away [from] it because they don’t want people to know. It’s scary, and it’s dangerous for people to know your status, especially if they want something bad to happen to you .”

7. Do you believe the current decisions being made by our government should elicit an emotional response?

“I think anything that [what] the government does should elicit a response in general. Not just immigration, but anything that happens needs to have a response from the people, and the government needs to respond. The government is working for us to try to keep us safe or try to be better for the American society, and if they’re doing something that is not for the American society then they need to respond in some way.”

8. What are your thoughts on sanctuary cities? Should the federal government be able to cut funding due to the current debate surrounding sanctuary cities?

“I don’t think that it should be up to the federal government to make those decisions. It’s hard to say because a lot of the sanctuary cities are actually self-providing. Talking about San Francisco [specifically], San Francisco gives more money to the federal government than it actually gets back from them.” Mr. Barragan went on to question the meaning of cutting funds from a self-providing sanctuary city and the actual methods that would have to be implemented in order to execute that. “But I think that sanctuary cities are good. They are a place of safety where people with like-minded mindsets can actually [live].”

9. What do you think should be done to help immigrants get citizenship?

“I think there needs to be a path because right now there isn’t anything, which is the biggest misconception that I’ve heard a lot of times. Even [I have had questions asked] to myself, [like] ‘You have been under Deferred Action for five years, why haven’t you done anything to fix your situation?’ [but] outside of marrying a citizen, there isn’t really anything that I could possibly do to fix that. So I think there needs to be some way to showcase that we’re good citizens. I don’t have a criminal record. I’ve given back to society. I’m a teacher. What else do you want to know? I think there needs to be something. I wouldn’t be able to say what. I don’t know if amnesty is the right call, but at least for the people who are Dreamers who grew up here, who don’t have a life in another country, there needs to be something we can do to help them out.”

10. Do you believe there is a group of immigrants that is attacked the most and in what way?

“I think all immigrants are being attacked the most right now. I think that Middle Eastern immigrants are being attacked the most right now because things that are happening in the Middle East, you know with Syria and Muslim people. Unfortunately, I think on par with that is a lot of Latino immigrants in the U.S. – specifically, they’re being stereotyped. Even people who are not Latino immigrants, [people who are] just Latino or they look Latino, a lot of the times they’re being affected by these different stereotypes and injustices [by] getting pulled over [or] getting followed around. There was a story that I read recently where someone who was born in the U.S. was jailed and put into an immigration camp for months before [it was discovered] that he was actually a citizen of the U.S. I wanna say that those are the two groups being affected the most right now, because immigrants that are coming [who] have some type of white privilege are able to pass through a lot of things. There are immigrants from Canada who’re here without documentation. Although they may be suffering from some of these injustices, they’re not being targeted as heavily as the Latino population is.”


A Dreamer speaks out