How do undocumented Latino immigrants feel — after Trump’s election?

Residents speak out how the Trump administration affected them

Elisa Carrillo and Daisy Orozco

In 2015, there were an estimated 11.5 million unauthorized immigrants in the United States according to Pew Research. More than half of undocumented Latinos in the United States have serious concerns about their place in America after Trump’s election, in a survey done by Pew Research.

Photo courtesy of Pixbay

We interviewed undocumented immigrants located in southeast Los Angeles to find out how their lives have change since Trump became president. The majority of them look at the future with uncertainty, not knowing if they will be safe from deportation. They felt a shift in regards to their safety in the United States and have increasingly grown more worried about deportation. The people we interviewed and surveyed took precautionary measures to avoid deportation.

Citizens who are documented have stated that the Trump administration has inspired them to become an activist. These people personally know undocumented immigrants and see the struggles they face.

map of South Los Angeles
map of Huntington Park

Residents in Hispanic dominated areas such as South Central and Huntington Park have high immigrant populations. Our community project aimed to find out how immigrants, specifically undocumented ones, were affected after Trump assumed presidency and his plans on immigration.

Many Latinos or Hispanics have experienced discrimination and racism. This was no different for Paola Benitez who arrived to this country at the age of 4. Since Donald Trump became president, she became worried about her immigration status. Even to go as far as to avoid certain circumstances where there is a risk of deportation.

Benitez lived in a heavily populated Latino area. She goes on to say, “I never really faced discrimination but there has been instances where undocumented and American born Mexicans have said negative things about my status”

“They threatened to call I.C.E. [Immigration & Customs Enforcement] on me.”
Photo courtesy of Pexels

Valeria Martinez, a college student, shared the same fears. Martinez has become more fearful about her immigration status because “Trump… is slowly deporting immigrant students like myself.” To avoid deportation, Martinez has to drive carefully as to not attract a police officer and looks back on checkpoints.

Eduardo Campo, 19, who is a student majoring in history at California State University Northridge has trouble concentrating on his studies. Every time Campo commutes from home to campus and back, Campo does not feel secure leaving his parents behind at his house or when they go to work or anywhere in public.

“I feel scared leaving. You never know if something might happen. I have friends who are worried, too. DACA protected me, but now that it is rescinded, it sucks. I’m sure it gives others doubt on where their future might be.”
Photo courtesy of Pixbay

Like undocumented immigrants, first-generations share the same concern for their immediate family members. Such is the case for Melanie Jensen. Though she is an American citizen, Jensen is worried for her family and has become cautious of her future ever since Trump was elected president.

Patricia Guerrero, a 43 year-old Los Angeles resident, has become more worried because of Trump’s devotion to mass deportations of undocumented immigrants.

“I have nothing waiting for me in Mexico.”

“All my life I have been in the United States” she has been living in the United States for over 30 years.

Photo courtesy of Pixbay

“I try to go slow on the streets, I try not to fly anymore, I am more cautious on what I do know,” Guerrero adds. Guerrero does this in attempts to not cross paths between law enforcement in fear that her undocumented status would be revealed and eventually lead to deportation.

She started to make plans for the future in case she were to get deported. “I have been saving up little by little in case anything happens,” Guerrero said.

The Trump administration has changed the way undocumented immigrants live and their plans for the future. Although these immigrants look at the future with uncertainty, some are still hopeful.