Story by Lindsey Coleman, Assistant News Editor
“I will fight for what I and many others believe in,” she wrote. “I will go kicking and screaming before anyone tries to tear my family apart. We all have an obligation to fight racism and hate.”
Last week news spiraled about the end of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and President Donald Trump called on Congress to reform immigration policy in the next six months before DACA is officially phased out. Amidst the chaos, Celeste Siqueiros mustered the courage to demand better for America. She published a blog online and sparked a discussion about what it means to be DACAmented in this country.
“It’s really disheartening to see that people don’t educate themselves before assuming that they just crossed the border and are trying to steal people’s jobs,” Siqueiros said. “We are the ones who are taking the opportunity to help local businesses and governments flourish.”
Siqueiros is a sophomore nursing student who moved to Murray from Mexico at five years old. Her family uprooted from Hermosillo, Sonora and sought a better life. The family came with traveling visas, unsure if they would stay permanently.
“I had some family here, and my parents just wanted us to have a better life,” Siqueiros said. “They knew we wouldn’t really get that in Mexico, so we moved.”
She started kindergarten without speaking any English. She said she remembers crying every morning before school, but despite the challenges, she learned English by the end of the year. During elementary school, she felt like a citizen, but in middle school that changed.
Around fifth grade, she said someone said a racial slur about her. She felt angry, hurt and confused.
“It’s very out of body sort of, because you don’t know any other way,” Siqueiros said. “I thought I was like everyone else. I thought I was a citizen. I was a part of the culture.”
When she was in fifth grade, Barack Obama was elected, which she said honored diversity and inclusivity in American culture. In 2012, the administration enacted the DACA immigration policy and eased the fear of deportation.
“Now that all this is happening, the fear is starting to creep back in,” Siqueiros said.
According to CNN, since the Obama administration began DACA in 2012, 787,580 people have been approved for the program. Eligibility requires applicants to arrive in America before age 16 and live there since June 15, 2017. Most DACAmented immigrants are from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala or Honduras. They pay income taxes, are eligible for a license and can legally have jobs.
Siqueiros and her brother were able to work, receive licenses and earn good credit. They are now students at Murray State.
“We are lucky because we’ve lived here in Murray and we’ve been able to save up. My parents have sacrificed so much to have us both in school,” Siqueiros said. “Even the immigrants who don’t get to go to college should still be treated equally because they fight to keep the economy thriving.”
Siqueiros said President Trump’s actions and words about DACA have messed with the country’s emotions and left them not knowing what to believe.
“You just lose hope in the government, because they are playing this political game without realizing that it’s harming the people,” Siqueiros said. “What they’re doing is dividing our country even more. We have to unite and support each other, but a lot of people don’t understand that,” Siqueiros said.
For students who want to get involved, she said the Office of Multicultural Affairs may have an event soon where students can get informed.
“I know my brother and I aren’t the only ones who are DACAmented on this campus,” Siqueiros said.
Last week, Murray State released a statement about the university’s stance on the DACA issue and vowed to protect the privacy of all students involved:
“Murray State University is and remains a student-centered university dedicated to supporting a diverse community of student scholars in their educational pursuits, regardless of their background or country or origin.”