Thoughts from an Undocumented Student at Tufts

As President Biden steers immigration policy changes, a student of DACA status shares their experience since the Trump administration tried to rescind the program
A person holding an American flag in front of their face with the sun in the background
"I would like to encourage my peers to stay politically engaged, stay engaged in their communities. It’s important for them to inform themselves, get to know what it means to be undocumented," the student said. Photo: Ingimage
April 8, 2021

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Two years ago, the world was a different place. There was no COVID-19 pandemic yet, and President Donald Trump was just over halfway through his term. His administration had ordered an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and the case was slated to be heard by the Supreme Court.

Tufts University joined more than 160 colleges and universities in an amicus brief opposing the rescission of DACA, and ultimately, the Supreme Court upheld the immigration program.

More recently, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to safeguard the DACA program, and his administration has proposed other immigration policy changes, such as boosting refugee admissions and expanding access to family-based green cards.

A Tufts student of undocumented status, who was originally interviewed in 2019 about their experience, agreed to a follow-up conversation about whether things have changed for them under Biden and how the inequalities of the COVID-19 pandemic have affected their life. They shared their thoughts in the following comments as told to Tufts Now.

“Compared to the past four years, I feel a lot less anxiety about my situation as a student with DACA status and about my future, knowing that the Biden administration has taken a humanitarian approach to immigration. But I also want to acknowledge that it's not perfect. Although there are strides for DACA being made by the administration and in the House, there are still undocumented folks who are not being highlighted in the way they should be—people with Temporary Protected Status and the migrants at the Mexican border.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been tough, but I'm very grateful to be safe and home with my family. We've all seen the inequalities happening to people of color. But for undocumented folks, there's an added burden. Perhaps they don't have health insurance or can’t pay for care if they get COVID. I want to encourage my peers that if they want to act in solidarity with undocumented folks and other vulnerable non-citizens, as well as people in other marginalized groups, then they should take COVID seriously.

I draw support from my family. They've always been there for me, telling me to continue chasing my dreams even if things are difficult, to work hard, and to seek support when needed. If I ever need help, I can go to the Tufts FIRST Resource Center. I'm never afraid of sharing and being myself, and I feel lucky to have this community. That’s what makes me smile.

I would like to encourage my peers to stay politically engaged, stay engaged in their communities. A lot of people who do not have citizenship status may not be able to engage in the systems the way we’d like to, in the same way as our peers with status can. It’s important for them to inform themselves, get to know what it means to be undocumented. And if they feel comfortable, share that knowledge with other people, because it's very humanizing. We might be “invisible,” but we're here, we work just as hard as everybody else. It would be nice to have people showing solidarity, even if they are not of the same status.

My friends and I have been reminiscing because we're going to be graduating soon. We've had conversations about things we miss doing together, but we are looking forward to a time where we'll be able to get together again. After graduation, I'll be working, and I’m excited to start using the things I've learned from my major. My dream career takes a lot of training and extra schooling, but my family has been telling me to have hope. If it's meant to happen, it'll happen.”

Angela Nelson can be reached at angela.nelson@tufts.edu.