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Edgewood College Dreamers Speak Out


BY RACHEL HOWE AND CONNOR GLASBRENNER | PHOTO BY ALEX THOMAS

Three Edgewood College students have chosen to speak out on the possible end of DACA.

DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the program allowing those who came to the U.S as children to stay and work, has recently been ended by the Trump administration. This decision will affect an estimated 800,000 people — including around a dozen Edgewood students.

DACA students, often referred to as Dreamers, still have until March 6, 2018 before any action can be taken against them, but that provides them with little comfort. The limbo between now and the eventual decision from Congress leaves many individuals feeling anxious, and wondering what their future may hold.

Estiven Zhen Mulian Photo by Yasir Alhumaidan

Estiven Zhen Mulian said, “We don’t know if we are still protected from deportation, there has been legislation that has been suggested stating that police enforcement or immigration services can come to your house and deport you.”

While DACA provides undocumented students with the opportunity to study in the United States, it doesn’t provide much else for the students. Zhen Mulian, a DACA recipient at Edgewood, reported that his parents pay taxes to the United States but don’t have the right to vote, health insurance, or citizenship. Zhen Mulian mentioned that he was lucky enough to have just renewed his work authorization card, so his status should be secure for up to two more years.

Zhen Mulian spoke of his plans to drop one of his majors to accelerate the process toward graduation. He expressed fear that he might not have time to finish both before a potential deportation, going on to say he hoped to at least have a college degree beforehand.

Another DACA recipient, Cerxio Guerrero Noguez, is still unsure what exactly will happen in the coming months.

“From what I understood, if your DACA expires before March 5 you can still renew it to get another two years, but if your DACA is going to expire after then, you have until the expiration date. My DACA expires next year in September. After that, I don’t know if they’re going to come knocking at my door.”

If he faced deportation, Guerrero Noguez said he would be completely lost. He would be forced to return to Mexico, where he was born, a place he has not been in nearly two decades.

“Even with DACA, I’ve always been scared to even be pulled over or anything. It’s even worse now because my driver’s license won’t be valid. It’s just going to be a constant fear.”

Cerxio Guerrero Noguez Photo by Yasir Alhumaidan

The ending of his work authorization next September is one of his greatest stresses.

“Work is what I’m most worried about. I got DACA straight out of high school so that I’d be able to work. I know of other people who work under the table and what not. I, personally, have not, I don’t know how that works.”

Lupe Salmeron, another DACA Student at Edgewood College, has always been very open with her status in the United States. “I’ve always known I was undocumented; it was never something my parents didn’t tell me.” She said she doesn’t even know a world without DACA.

“Imagining a world where I can’t work or use my degree when I graduate is kind of like, what now?”

The one certainty for many DACA students is their ability to continue attending Edgewood. Edgewood College became a sanctuary school last year following a petition signed by students and staff. Additionally, this summer, following the termination of the DACA program, President Scott Flanagan sent a letter to all Edgewood students to inform them that the college would not only allow all DACA students to remain at Edgewood but also refuse to give student information to any authorities.

Zhen Mulian said, “When Flanagan sent out that email, I was relieved.”

The students interviewed mostly agreed that they felt Edgewood was doing well in dealing with the aftermath of the decision to terminate DACA.

“From what I’ve heard, and seen from Scott Flanagan, and the way they’ve been reaching out to the DACA students, I do think they’ve been supporting me pretty well. I hope it’s a continuous support,” said Guerrero Noguez. “It’s definitely not something that’s just going to go away in a few weeks or months.”

Salmeron disagreed; she said that the school could be doing a better job. “They could be more public about DACA, and more vocal about the fact that they do have undocumented students and that we do pay tuition.”

Asked what more Edgewood students could do to support them through the next few months, the students stressed the importance of being educated on the issues and willing to speak directly to immigrants and Dreamers.

“I’d say just knowing about the issue and just being informed really,” said Guererro Noguez. “I know a lot of people think like ‘Oh, DACA students get stuff handed to them.’” However, DACA is meant to protect people from deportation, but DACA students don’t get any benefits from DACA — besides the ability to work through a work permit and a social security card.

Salmeron echoed the same sentiment by saying, “We contribute so much, without taking a lot. We are just normal people, trying to better our lives.”

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