Migrating to a Better Sequoia

Alex Chang and Alex Cottrell

The election of 2020 is coming up. One of the biggest issues that has been fiercely debated during the Trump Administration is immigration. A summary of recent polls by RealClearPolitics has Joe Biden at 29.1 points and Elizabeth Warren 20.3 points, which puts them ahead of all the other democratic candidates. But the policies of Trump and the two frontrunners of the Democratic party differ greatly. So we did our research and dug into the differences in the details of their policies.

Immigration has been a top issue over the past decade. With 89.4 million immigrants and their U.S. born children living in the states as of 2018, the policies implemented on immigration will greatly impact the population of the United States. That is why immigration policies are one of the greatest factors in the 2020 election. President Trump’s immigration policies include tripling the amount of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, and he wants to end birthright citizenship for undocumented immigrats. Additionally, President Trump wants applicants-for-entry to be required to certify that they can pay for their own housing, healthcare and other needs before coming to the United States. Trump’s goal in this is to reduce “welfare abuse,” which is defined as people coming into the U.S. and abusing their ability to access welfare. This change would make it much more difficult for immigrants to be admitted to the states.

Elizabeth Warren has many policies regarding immigration, but some of the most controversial and impactful are ending the 3-10 year bar laws which prevents illegal immigrants from coming back to the United States for three to ten years, ending Operation Streamline, which lets immigrants be prosecuted in mass prosecutions, and reshaping Customs and Border Protection and ICE to focus their efforts on homeland security efforts like screening cargo, identifying counterfeit goods, and preventing smuggling and trafficking.

And finally, Joe Biden has set goals to address the root cause of immigration, specifically the corruption with police and governments in Central America, and he plans to focus on utilizing immigration to build up the American economy.

“This country was founded by immigrants, and today immigrants are super important part of the culture and economy of this country,” Jane Slater said, teacher of English Language Development and an advisor of the Dream Club. “We’re a big country with a lot of resources and we’re really fortunate, and we can share that with people who are in situations where that’s not the case. We can also feel confident that those same people will make positive contributions to our society.”

There are numerous reasons why people immigrate into the United States, including escaping violence and gaining job opportunities.

“Most of the people I know, they didn’t have choices in their country so they’re willing to take the risk to immigrate to the United States,” senior Ivan Franco said, member of the Dream club. “Most of the people I know just come here to work hard and earn money to send it back to the country and help their family. They’re not just here to walk around. They came because they knew there would be new opportunities they could take advantage of in the States.”

Slater supports reinstating Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). DACA was an immigraton policy created under the Obama administration in 2015. DACA allows unlawful immigrants without serious misdemeanors on their record to become eligible for a work permit and prevents them from being deported. However, DACA didn’t provide a pathway to citizenship.

Slater, who believes that undocumented students have been severely affected by the Trump Administration’s current immigration policies, thinks that the immigration policies of the winner of the 2020 election will heavily affect students at Sequoia.

“Trump’s current policies are really negatively affecting undocumented students not only by the policy themselves, like not letting people apply for DACA, but also Trump is really aggressively ramping up deportations which is creating a culture of fear,” Slater said. “It’s causing people probably not to seek services that they might need because they’re afraid to be public. It’s causing students to really worry about what their and their families’ futures will be. Both in terms of school and after they finish college.”

Without DACA undocumented students are scared. Students may need jobs to support their families, and without DACA, they may not be able to apply for a job.

But to find out how students felt about Trump’s policies and their impact on undocumented Sequoia students, we asked a student in the Dream club.

“Undocumented students are very afriad, and they know that their safe place isn’t going to be safe anymore, so if they lose that then there’s a really high chance that they will be deported,” Franco said. “So they will not come to school, feeling unsafe, and that will hurt them in their academics. They’re really afraid and they can’t concentrate in school, and they will always be looking around to be safe so it will really poorly affect them academically.”

The new immigration policies of the new president will greatly affect Sequoia students. If Trump gets re-elected, he can continue to push his immigration agenda and try to get more of his proposed policies done. If Warren gets elected, she will try to reinstate DACA and focus on reshaping ICE. Biden is also for reinstating DACA, and will try to address the root causes of emmigration.

The results of this election and the ensuing policies will obviously affect students’ lives, and could change them forever.

“I think we can always be doing more. But we do have a pretty supportive community here. I think most of the staff is very supportive and, you know, aware of the struggles that undocumented students face,” Slater said. “The Dream Club is specifically set up to raise awareness in the community not only in Sequoia, but in the greater community and also to raise scholarship money because undocumented students are not eligible for many scholarships.”

We asked Franco what how he thought Sequoia was helping. “First of all, we have the dream cub. And that’s a really safe place for undocumented students. The club is specifically for undocumented students to help them succeed in high school, to go to college, and to raise awareness about what’s going on,” Franco said. However, Franco does think that there is more to be done. “…they [Sequoia] could bring in people that know more about immigration to school to talk to students,” Franco said. “Maybe they [the student] feels shy, and they don’t want to go to dream club because there’s a lot going on in their lives. I think bringing more people from the outside and have one on one conversations with the students would be quite helpful.”

The staff at Sequoia is ready to support students that need help, whether it be issues with ICE and undocumentation or simply getting through a hard life in high school. With support from the Dream club and staff like Ms. Slater, Sequoia is ready to take care of its students, no matter which way the election goes.