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Trump’s Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric Made Me Second Guess My Choice To Get My Master’s Abroad But I Persist

Courtesy of Carlos Adolfo Gonzalez Sierra

This Election Day I watched in disbelief as the candidate who I thought had no chance clinched the presidency of the United States. I was in China completing my second master’s degree as a Schwarzman Scholar when the polls closed. As a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) beneficiary, tears ran down my face as I thought about what the results could mean for my family and me.

Carlos Adolfo Gonzalez Sierra
CREDIT: Carlos Adolfo Gonzalez Sierra

Donald Trump vowed to rescind DACA on day one. I took his word and returned to the United States before his inauguration. I had been paroled six times into the United States, entering through five different cities. My level of anxiety was higher this time because of the vitriolic rhetoric directed at “illegal” immigrants like me during the presidential campaign. My heart raced as the customs officers summoned me for questioning. That moment I understood that I had grown complacent as the inspection process became routine to me.

Carlos Adolfo Gonzalez Sierra
CREDIT: Carlos Adolfo Gonzalez Sierra

DACA brought stability to young lives marked by uncertainty, emancipating over 750,000 dreamers like me from the threat of deportation and allowing us to gain legal employment. For many of us, DACA also became the push we needed to rise above the limitations imposed by our immigration and socio-economic status to accomplish extraordinary things. Propelled by curiosity and a desire to improve myself, I sought a place in academic programs that took me to ten different countries in four continents in the past three years. I have visited iconic sites like the Great Wall Of China, the Brandenburg Gate in Germany, Angkor Wat Temple in Cambodia, and Big Ben in London.

Carlos Adolfo Gonzalez Sierra
CREDIT: Carlos Adolfo Gonzalez Sierra

I have walked on the same grounds as Aristotle in The Acropolis of Athens, the birthplace of democracy. I basked in the grandeur of the Forbidden City of China, a place rarely seen by people for four hundred years. I walked the same cobble streets as Isaac Newton once did, and I enjoyed three-course meals draped in traditional college robes inside centuries-old buildings as a student at the University of Cambridge. As I traveled, I often thought about the improbability of my position. I felt the weight of my privilege when I thought about the thousands of students who applied for these opportunities and of the many more who did not. Yet, here I was.

Carlos Adolfo Gonzalez Sierra
CREDIT: Carlos Adolfo Gonzalez Sierra

Reentry into the United States was never guaranteed. I knew I was taking an enormous risk every time I boarded an outbound flight. However, the thought of the impact I would be able to have on the lives of those less privileged empowered with the experiences, knowledge, and relationships I would gain abroad filled my spirit with courage.

Carlos Adolfo Gonzalez Sierra
CREDIT: Carlos Adolfo Gonzalez Sierra

It is now clear that we have entered a new political environment. President Trump’s executive orders are already taking a toll on immigrant and refugee families. Could DACA be his next target? Forget the detrimental economic impact on the nation if DACA is repealed. The intangible impact of repeal is equally as important. We are no longer children. We are young adults with the capacity and the desire to positively contribute. Without work authorization, what are we to do? Continue accumulating college degrees in hopes of one day being able to put them to use? President Trump and the congressional Republican leadership must cease mercilessly playing with our futures.

Carlos Adolfo Gonzalez Sierra
CREDIT: Carlos Adolfo Gonzalez Sierra

Being selected a Schwarzman Scholar was the culmination of a lifetime of academic preparation and persistence in the face of linguistic, financial, and legal challenges. Now I am confronted with the choice of continuing my hard-earned education in China or risk losing my life in the United States. As frustrating as this situation is, it is not unique for me. Like other undocumented students, I have had to take detours on my path to realizing my dreams. Nothing has been easy or given to me. This is no different. The familiarity of this situation does not make it any less frustrating. With or without DACA, we must not desist demanding a permanent place in this country. The alternative is simply inconceivable.

Carlos Adolfo Gonzalez Sierra
CREDIT: Carlos Adolfo Gonzalez Sierra

The recent protests in support of refugees and immigrant families have strengthened my conviction that, despite the actions of the president, the majority of Americans believe that we belong. The fight for American’s soul is only beginning. For my undocumented friends still in the shadows, now it is not the time to hide. We must do our part to support those at the vanguard of this struggle by organizing ourselves and giving others the strength to do the same through the power of our stories.


READ: My Name Is Cindy. I’m Undocumented. I Can Make A Difference.

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A Month After Her Mother Was Detained By ICE, Cal State L.A. Student Claudia Rueda Was Also Detained

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A Month After Her Mother Was Detained By ICE, Cal State L.A. Student Claudia Rueda Was Also Detained

Facebook/Claudia Rueda

A mother of two from Boyle Heights, and her daughter, a Cal State Los Angeles student were both detained by immigration authorities in separate incidents and could be deported to Mexico. According to the the Los Angeles Times, people are livid at the way they were apprehended and are calling it unjust.

On April 24, Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested Teresa Vidal-Jaime, along with her husband, because they believed that they were connected to a cocaine drug ring.

But, according to community organizers, the authorities were wrong. They say the 54-year-old woman had nothing to do with the 30 pounds of cocaine and $600,000 in cash that the authorities found in a car belonging to her husband, Hugo Rueda.

Although the Sheriff’s Department released Vidal-Jaime because she was not considered a suspect in the drug bust — they claim they did not ask about her immigration status — ICE detained her due to her undocumented status. She was then taken to a detention center in Chula Vista and is awaiting deportation proceedings.

Community organizers suspect Vidal-Jaime was arrested because her daughter, Claudia Rueda, has been a longtime immigration activist.

CREDIT: Facebook/Claudia Rueda

Claudia Rueda has always been quick to inform people about ICE raids and pro-immigration protests.

“We think it is retaliation against her mother for her daughter’s activism,” community organizer Marcela Hernandez told the Los Angeles Times.

While her mother was in detention, Claudia Rueda held protests in support of her mom.

“Despite being told she would not be detained as long she cooperated, my mother was apprehended during an illegally conducted raid at my apartment,” Claudia Rueda said in a statement. “I know my mother is innocent, and both [the Sheriff’s Department and Border Patrol] know that, which is why they were supposed to let her go.”

Then on May 19, less than a month after her mother’s arrest, ICE arrested Claudia Rueda.

CREDIT: Facebook/Claudia Rueda

A statement from the Democratic Socialists of America offered Rueda’s version of the incident: “Officials showed up this morning, family members knew not to open the door since the agents couldn’t produce a warrant. But they got to Claudia anyway while she was outside moving the family’s car. For several hours her family had no idea where she was.”

ICE painted a different story. According to a press release by ICE, they state that Claudia was arrested, along with other individuals for their involvement in a “cross-border narcotics smuggling organization.”

ICE says that Claudia is in violation of the terms of her visa.

“These targeted arrests should send a stern message to anyone linked to transnational smuggling,” Roy D. Villareal, Deputy Chief Patrol Agent of the San Diego Sector said in the press release. “Our agents will be relentless in their effort to put these organizations out of business.”

The president of Cal State University, Los Angeles, where Rueda is a student, issued a statement saying ICE needs to release Rueda.

Protests calling for the release of Rueda are currently taking place.

Right now at outside Border Patrol in San Diego where they are holding Claudia after they kidnapped her from Boyle Heights, CA. #FreeClaudia

Posted by Sophia Armen on Friday, May 19, 2017

Credit: Sophia Armen / Facebook

A social media campaign, #FreeClaudia, was also launched:

The Democratic Socialists of America have created a template for anyone who wants to send ICE a letter asking for the release of Claudia and her mother.

[VIA] The Los Angeles Times: Woman swept up in massive cocaine bust in L.A. now faces deportation, spurring protests and anger

READ: Latino Man Held At ICE Detention Center Appears To Have Committed Suicide After Being In Isolation For 19 Days

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