Undocumented students in Madison discussed fear at a weekly Latinx youth meeting Wednesday.
After hearing about Daniel Ramirez Medina, a 23-year-old undocumented Seattle man who was detained by ICE last week, students said they felt on edge.
Ramirez Medina was brought to the United States illegally as a child and had been under protection from deportation and eligible for employment through the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Yesterday in Washington state, protesters showed support for Ramirez and spoke out against immigration enforcement action. They believe this is the first DACA recipient who has been detained without cause.
In Madison, members of the Regeneración youth group at Centro Hispano said they are worried about this incident.
“What this story has provoked within myself – it’s been scary,” Regeneración member Juan Alvarez-Zavala said.
The Verona Area High School student referenced DACA legislation that once made undocumented people feel safer. “A lot of the courage that many individuals had under the Obama administration to step out of the shadows and to be living authentically has quivered a bit,” Alvarez-Zavala said.
Madison College student Alondra Quechol said she feels mixed emotions as a student in this political climate.
“Once upon a time, we were chanting in the streets that we’re undocumented and unafraid. Now I think more than ever, we are afraid,” Quechol said. “We just want empathy. We’re a nation of immigrants… and it’s time for [Trump] to acknowledge the fact that without immigrants or refugees or whoever, this country won’t be the same.”
“To see that the president of the United States is given such a great and grand platform to just spew out this phobia – it’s just mind-boggling,” Alvarez-Zavala said.
Quechol is a leader of the Regeneración group that focuses on engaging Latinx youth in workshops and leadership activities where they can give back to their community. It’s also a place for youth to share their experiences with discrimination and seek advice.
Both Quechol and Alvarez-Zavala expressed their gratitude for Centro Hispano, that provides a space for Latinx community members to come together.
“The only thing we can do is stand in solidarity and resistance until we can get equality,” Quechol said.
“I think as youth we have the power to do so much more than we think we can,” Alvarez-Zavala said.
“I think one of the first things we can do is affirm and validate ourselves in order to be advocates and leaders for those who are afraid to speak out and those who can’t.”