Worcester Telegram & Gazette: 'Clark students speak out about undocumented status, DACA policy'

April 26, 2016

Clark seniors Rodrigo Saavedra and Nathanael S. Aragon Cooper talked about their experiences as undocumented immigrants in a recent article about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. Saavedra and Aragon Cooper, who both came to the United States with family members as children, are watching the Supreme Court for a decision on a state's challenge to the expansion of the policy initially proposed by President Obama in 2012.

Also in the article, Political Science Professor Heather Silber Mohamed mentioned recent data about the number of undocumented immigrants in the Worcester area who would be affected by DACA and its expansion, as well the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans program (DAPA). 

Here, an excerpt:

"'I feel American in every way, except in the way the American government defines,' said Mr. Aragon Cooper, whose mother fled with him from Mexico and a dangerous domestic situation. “I feel like people shouldn’t listen to the rhetoric, and get to know the people in their communities.'

"For both him and Mr. Saavedra, the realities of their situations as undocumented residents set in during their junior year of high school, a time when the rest of their classmates were 'getting jobs, getting driver’s permits – you realized you couldn’t have those things,' Mr. Aragon Cooper said.

"Battling depression, he said 'it was grinding just to have to go to school. In the back of your head, you thought, "This might just be a waste of time." '

"Both he and Mr. Saavedra, whose family fled their native Peru, ultimately credit their networks of support – friends and family, as well as immigration activists – with helping them overcome their status and go to college. DACA, meanwhile, has given them a chance to work, as well. Mr. Saavedra, for instance, has been able to work at a legal firm in Boston under the program.

“'It’s opened up opportunities I otherwise would not have had,' said Mr. Aragon Cooper, who hopes to enroll in medical school after graduation, although his status will continue to hinder his chances to receive financial aid."