In September, President Donald Trump moved to repeal the executive order put in place by former President Barack Obama that protected young undocumented immigrants called DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. He called on Congress to pass a replacement into law within six months to protect these immigrants. Junior, Jonathan Lozano is considered a “Dreamer” under DACA, and is navigating high school through the lens of an immigrant from Mexico.
“If I hadn’t immigrated [to the US], I wouldn’t have a mom or dad,” Lozano said. “I would be raised by my grandparents.”
Lozano was nine years old when he immigrated to Texas where his mom had already been living for six years. They moved to Kansas in 2014 because it is less expensive.
“I’m the first one in my family to even reach high school,” Lozano said.
Other students and their families immigrated to the US for a more desirable life and future, counting on a better educational system and job opportunities. Junior, Alondra Retana came to the United States with her family when she was three years old from Mexico. She explained her parents wanted a different lifestyle and better schooling.
“I wouldn’t know English, I probably wouldn’t have gone to school and I would be living on a farm in poverty,“ Retana said. “I feel like my parents would have done the best they could to get me a better education, but it would have been really difficult.”
The closest school to Retana’s old home in Mexico was 20 minutes away by car. She would have had to buy a bus ticket everyday to get to school and back. Also, the school did not provide a lunch.
“Jonathan works very very hard and has been a great attribute to the AVID program, Alondra [also] works very hard, cares about her grades and is highly motivated.” AVID teacher, Brad Nicks said.
Both Lozano and Retana are in the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program. The program pushes students to take more honors classes and helps prepare students for college and keep them organized. Without the program some students would not have much knowledge about college due to them being first generation college students.
“They get to go on college visits and they get to see what colleges have to offer, they get to learn about financial aid, scholarships that they might be able to apply for and it just kind of helps guide them in that direction,” AVID teacher, Danielle Falor said.
Both take a load of demanding classes including honors, advanced and college courses.
Nearly 800,000 minors are being protected by the DACA program. Lozano plans on becoming a US citizen, but he cannot do so until he has been living in the US for at least 10 years and it is a long and expensive journey.