Carmel High School senior Alessandro Boaro’s 80-year-old grandmother had a green card granting her residency for the United States. Her residency has given her access to ObamaCare, which she needs for her arthritis and other ailing health issues, but since visiting Mexico in late 2016, she has been unable to return due to rising tensions between the U.S. and Mexico.
“Our grandma is what we are mostly worried about because she has a lot of medical stuff that she has to deal with,” Boaro says. “If she is not here in the United States then she won’t be able to get it.”
Mexico doesn’t have the same healthcare system as the U.S., and Boaro’s grandmother has not been able to obtain the assistance she needs. She has been forced to have operations in Mexico, and Boaro has yet to hear back from her since her last operation.
“I worry because she takes care of my other siblings,” Boaro adds. “Once I’m out of the picture when I go off to college, there is no one really taking care of my siblings. She takes care of us a lot for our parents. She has been with us for as long as I can remember.”
With the inauguration of President Donald Trump, many of his proposed immigration policies have become a real concern for immigrants at CHS. His executive order to build a wall stretching across the U.S.-Mexico border and his notion to let the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program expire have students worrying.
“I am here under DACA,” one student says. “I was born in Mexico and my dad came here before I was born, and then I came here when I was three.”
According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website, DACA is a program that allows undocumented immigrants to reside in the U.S. for a renewable period of two years. To be eligible for the program, one must have been brought before one’s 16th birthday and before June 15, 2012. Applicants must also be under the age of 31 and have no lawful status in the U.S.
“Trump has vowed to let DACA expire and not renew,” English Language Development teacher Brenda Buran says, “which means that students and the young people who are currently here legally will see that legal residency disappear.”
The DACA program is highly influenced by the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act—commonly referred to as the DREAM Act—by helping the children of illegal immigrants have a legal status in the U.S., according to the National Immigration Law Center. The DREAM Act has never been passed, and the main difference between the two is that DACA gives legal status, not legal presence. This means that the DREAM Act could lead to citizenship, while DACA could not.
“Those kids, the DREAMers, they were brought here at a young age,” senior Diego Almaraz adds, “and didn’t really have an option. It’s more like their family members made that decision, and they have to go along with it. They should not have to suffer as a result of their parents’ decisions.”
A United States Citizenship and Immigration Services statistic states that there are approximately 750,000 immigrants granted protection under the DACA program. In 2015, 96 percent of DACA recipients were either employed or in school, according to a nationwide survey of DACA recipients by the Center for American Progress.
“A lot of businesses here, especially here on the Monterey Peninsula, benefit a lot from people under DACA,” Boaro mentions.
According to White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, as of Jan. 23 removing the DACA program is no longer a top priority for the Trump administration.
“The whole point of DACA, for me, was to go to college and be able to study in college,” one student says. “If [Trump] takes it away, he is taking away our privileges.”
Even if Trump allows the DACA program to expire, recipients of the program will still be able to lawfully reside in the country until their temporary citizenship expires. The NILC explains that, as of now, it is unclear what exactly will happen if the program expires.
“If you take those people away, then who’s going to pick your food, who’s gonna do all that stuff?” Almaraz asks.
On top of Trump’s vow to discontinue DACA, his recent executive order to construct a wall stretching the entire length of the U.S.-Mexico border and to increase the immigration screening process has instilled fear into many students.
“The proposed wall, yeah, that’s an issue,” Buran says. “There are definitely students on this campus who are affected by that. There is some fear. Most students feel pretty safe, but there is a lot of fear for relatives, for parents and some students themselves are fearful.”
Along with the immigration crackdown on the U.S.-Mexico border, there has also been a crackdown on Middle Eastern immigration. Trump initially banned travel from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days. However, according to the official document of the United States Court of Appeals, the travel ban has been revoked and any appeal has been banned.
“America is a country that was founded on immigrants, the people that moved here came from other countries,” says Munir Mohamed, a freshman who identifies as a Muslim. “I don’t feel like it’s something he should be doing. It’s not a positive thing.”