Uncovering Our Stories: John Sanchez

From my perspective as a low income individual, I have found it difficult to not only finance my education but also to apply for things like DACA. My father is able to legally work in this country; however, his annual income is approximately that of the federal poverty income level and he has been supporting a family of four for a while. This has prevented me from focusing solely on school, as I have had to work full time each semester I was attending community college in order to pay for tuition, textbooks, and living expenses. Despite my family paying taxes, undocumented students are ineligible for financial aid. This is an inconvenience especially since a portion of our tuition that we pay out of pocket is placed into a financial aid pool that we are unable to access. Fortunately California has passed a law that allows students that are qualified for AB540 to compete for State financial aid, but unfortunately many states do not or require undocumented students to pay out of state tuition.

From a queer perspective, I have had difficulties coming out to my family because of the heavy religious beliefs from my dad’s side of the family. I fear coming out because there may be a possibility that my dad would abandon me, and since I lack the ability to work legally, I will be unable to support myself and will end up homeless. Furthermore, queer undocumented individuals do not even have the option of marrying their partner in every state to obtain citizenship the way heterosexual couples do. Many of us cannot afford to travel to a state where same-sex marriage is legal in order to get married. These limitations only make it more difficult for immigrants who are minorities within the undocumented community because of the lack of equal access and support.

Lastly, from an API perspective, the amount of support and information flowing through the API undocumented communities is lacking. Since the media and many politicians have done such a great job at using Latino/a communities as a scapegoat for the immigration dilemma, the rest of the diverse undocumented populations are overlooked and underserved. Most folks tend to believe this issue does not affect the API community and despite their being a need for more organizations that cater to this community, there is almost a complete absence. In addition, the fact that immigration is highly stigmatized in the API community leads to less people revealing their immigration status publicly and even less people taking advantage of the few resources that are available to them.

We have tried stricter border enforcement in the past, but the number of undocumented immigrants have nearly quadrupled. I continue to hear that many Republicans will not support a pathway to citizenship because we need to get to the root of the problem and prevent “illegal” immigration from happening by increasing enforcement laws. This, however, is not the root of the problem. The reasons why people migrate is not being addressed. Many of us immigrate here for the opportunity to live an adequate life. Many immigrants become undocumented because the alternative of returning to a country that has been affected by US economic policies and US corporate greed has left them and many others destitute.

How can we give corporations so much power and freedom but not do the same for human beings? Immigrants are being driven into an underground economy where they work for less wages and have no rights and companies continue to produce material goods overseas so that corporate leaders can exploit the lack of labor laws, destitution, and resources of other countries. We are not the problem, we are victims, along with everyone else who has been affected by corporate greed. We need a better immigration reform bill and we need it now. Until then, we will be watching Congress, calling our Representatives, and mobilizing our communities for a reform that puts all 11 million on a pathway to citizenship.