Two SIU DACA Students Speak Out

Sep 8, 2017

Two SIU-Carbondale students who are a part of the DACA program remain hopeful about completing their college careers.

That's even though President Donald Trump announced this week he's ending the program, which deferred deportation proceedings for certain young undocumented immigrants.

Oneida Vargas and Giovanni Galindo came over with their families from Mexico when they were young and have become friends since meeting at SIU-C.

Vargas says she believes DACA students have proven to be valuable members of American society over the past five years.
 
"People have started sponsoring the DACA program, basically showing their support for it on social media all over the place; you can see it in politicians, in CEO's. I'm a lot more hopeful than I was back then. I think Congress will definitely put something in place, either the DREAM Act, or something similar to it."
 
Galindo says he'd like to see an amnesty program put in place for those currently in DACA.
 
"If you think about it, we were kids when we came here. It was not our choice to come into this country illegally. I mean I'm an American citizen basically, except on paper."

Both say they feel the need to stand up for young undocumented immigrants.
 
Vargas says she's willing to speak out because she feels she has nothing to lose.

"I mean DACA's going to end. It's done. That's it. There's no going back. My work permit expires in a year and-a-half approximately. I have a year and-a-half to fight as hard as I possibly can. I don't think I have any time to waste."

Galindo says there is no reason to hide.

"As DACA students, we really are part of this society and we contribute to it. Hopefully, as we keep speaking on it, people will understand that we really are good people that don't want anything but to chase the American dream and contribute to this society."

Vargas says she was so was so worried last year that she almost did not return to school during the spring semester. But, says she decided to return to campus because it was the right thing to do. She says being in the U.S. has meant she's had a chance to get an education and feel normal.
 
"I have been able to feel like I actually belong here. I'm actually accepted. I actually can go ahead and get an education and pursue this career and live the American dream. I can actually do that. That is in my future. But, now I'm not completely sure. I want it to be. I will fight for it to be there."
 
Vargas says her parents - who live in Chicago - are worried about being deported. She says some of her mother's co-workers have already been sent back to Mexico.
 
"She definitely is fearful and of course I'm scared for them as well. It makes me afraid knowing that if she's driving down the street and someone pulls her over, that means she can end up back in Mexico within the next week or so. She's scared for me and I'm scared for them."

Vargas and Galindo would like to return to Mexico someday to visit and see the rest of their families who did not come to the U.S.

SIU-C Chancellor Carlos Montemagno says the school is committed to its DACA students and will continue to welcome them regardless of the status of the program.

Vargas wants to attend law school and become an immigration attorney. Galindo is a junior studying to be a filmmaker.