Trump’s presidency casts shadow on immigrant community

By Maria Pena-Cornejo

Staff Writer

This nation was built on the backs of millions of hardworking people who moved to this country with nothing but a dream and a hope for a better life for themselves and their families. People don’t leave their homeland because they want a change of scenery; they leave because they desperately yearn for the opportunity for a better life. The promise that the United States represents is enough to leave everything behind and search for opportunity.

My mother was just 15 years old when she made the journey to this country. Our family came to this country in search of the American dream. She is not a criminal. Her whole life she has worked hard to ensure that my sister and I have a better future.

In 2012, my mother applied for and received DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which gives a way to work legally for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States before the age of 15 and were under the age of 30 in 2012.

DACA doesn’t provide a path to citizenship. Despite the fact that my mother has two daughters who are citizens and that she has been in this country for more than 15 years, she is not able to become a citizen. Although Trump has said he will not target DACA recipients, already several DACA young people have been detained around the country.

President Donald Trump has planned an aggressive crackdown on undocumented immigrants living in the United States; he claims that his main focus will be expelling  criminals. But despite his claims, dozens of stories have come to light about people who are not criminals being subjected to immigration raids. According to, in Woodburn, 11 undocumented immigrants were recently taken into the removal process by immigration agents.

“Criminal” is the umbrella term that Trump is using to justify the deportations. Undocumented immigrants are living in terror of the possibility of mass deportation. These people are not criminals.They are parents, siblings and children who work every day to make their lives better.

Whispers of raids are causing undocumented people to live in a constant state of terror.  Fear is sweeping through the millions of immigrants in the United States. They fear being deported and separated from their families. The spread of false information regarding raids on social media and the uncertainty is causing thousands to live in the shadows.

Parents are now having to look into the eyes of their children and explain to them that they might not come home. Trump is tearing families apart.

Trump is blatantly targeting immigrants and is perpetuating racist actions. This reality is being lived by thousands across the country, including students at Parkrose High School.

One Parkrose freshman (we are not using her name in order to protect her family) entered this country when she was 1 year old. Her parents brought her to the United States from Mexico without documentation. Her whole life she has been threatened by the possibility of deportation. With the election of Donald Trump, the reality of deportation became even more prominent.

“I have a fear that at any moment that everything I’ve learned and lived could be taken away,” this student said.

In order to work and support her family financially, she used a fake social security number like many undocumented workers in the U.S. do.

“We all have it, we are just surviving,” she said.

Being the only one of her siblings not born the United States, she fears being deported away from her younger siblings.

“My biggest fear is being separated from my family that was born here,” she said. “We have to stay together.”

Another Parkrose student, sophomore Rebecca Benitez, has undocumented family members. Her family came to the United States in the 80’s in search of better work and to get their families out of poverty.

Like many others, her family has made adjustments.

“My family has been less likely to visit Mexican restaurants and markets because of their fear,” Benitez said.

Even at home, she notices her family’s different attitude.

“There’s a lot of fear and tension at home,” she said.

Sophomore Alexis Budar is also the son of immigrants who risked everything to ensure that he and his younger brothers can live the American Dream. Due to Trump, his family has also had to change their lifestyle.

“My parents will not leave the house other than going to work and getting food. I’m the only one allowed to go out because I am ‘American,’” Budar said.   

“I fear that Trump could kill millions of dreams of immigrant families,” Budar said.

“America is and will always be the nation of immigrants. It is the land of the free, not the white,” Budar added.

Communities are stepping up to aid struggling immigrants. Cities such as Los Angeles are declaring themselved sanctuary cities, stating that they will not work with immigration agents. Protests supporting immigrants have broken out throughout the country.

On Jan. 23, the Parkrose Board of Safety and Resolution sent out an email to Parkrose staff regarding undocumented students and families. It stated that Parkrose will not assist any agency that would “intentionally disrupt the peaceful existence of our students and families or negatively impact our students’ learning in any way.”

Undocumented Mexicans are flooding to the 50 consulates for advice. President of Mexico Enrique Pena Nieto stated in a video message that he would make sure that Mexican citizens are taken care of.

Activists and lawyers are urging families to have a plan in case of deportation. Plans include making sure that their children who are U.S citizens have a legal guardian or dual citizenship in case of deportation.

Around me, I am witnessing families be overtaken with a sense of urgency to prepare for the worst. I am seeing children be terrified of losing their parents. I am frightened for the future of my family and the future of the immigrant community.

It is unacceptable that people who are the definition of the American Dream are being targeted.