By Josefina de la Fuente and Argyro Partsakoulaki
Usually coming home from school is an ordinary and harmless journey for children. They aren’t likely to fear that they might not make it home after the school day ends. For years, so it was for Liz, a 14 year-old high school student who arrived illegally in the United States with her parents 10 years ago. It isn’t so normal for her any more. During the last three years, ever since Donald Trump became president, everything has changed.
Now, her biggest fear is an unexpected ICE raid happening at her school. Something that could lead to her immediate arrest and deportation. She lives in fear that she and her parents can be deported at any moment, so she regularly watches the news and is prepared to seek help from her relatives in the United States at a moment’s notice in the event her parents get arrested.
She is one of the 11,300 undocumented immigrants who live in the United States. according to an estimate by the Migration Policy Institute. Her parents crossed the borders illegally from Mexico and arrived in the U.S. when she was four. Since then Liz has grown up as an ordinary American kid, dreaming of going to college and spending the rest of her life in the country where she grew up and now calls home.
However, under the Trump administration, living without documents has become extremely difficult as the fear of getting deported is always present. Federal arrests of undocumented immigrants with no criminal record have more than tripled since Donald Trump became president and may still be accelerating, according to an NBC News analysis of Immigration and Customs Enforcement data during his first 14 months in office.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has been asked by the president to conduct workplace and location-based raids, and many of those have led to the arrest of immigrants, the separation of families, and have stirred fear in immigrant communities across the country.
For now, even though her fears of deportation have increased, Liz continues to live a normal life. Every week, she takes theater classes at school, where she is now in rehearsals for the “High School Musical,” and she participates in numerous activities like many teens of her age.
Still, a cloud hangs over her. In her bedroom lies a backpack full of the documents she might need in case her parents get arrested. She knows that without any legal protection, her immigration status will likely affect her future in the U.S. and might even separate her from her family. But, she stays hopeful that she will be able to accomplish her biggest dream: to graduate from college and become an actress.