The Trump administration’s new changes to immigration policy heavily impacted Latino communities. This new policy restricts the number of immigrants authorized to be in the United States each year. Fifty-five percent of Latinos say they are worried that they, a family member or close friend could be deported, according to a study released by Pew Research Center.
The study concluded that Latino communities feel conflicted about the future of their family and themselves while new immigration policies are being implemented.
At BYU-Idaho, approximately 1,329 international students attend campus with student visas, according to BYU-I’s International Student & Scholar Statistical Reports. Because of new immigration policies, many of these students could be negatively affected.
Jonathan Murillo, a freshman majoring in electrical engineering, understands the anxieties of the Latino and immigrant communities, while still finding pride in his American identity.
“Being an American I feel like my dreams can come true here,” he said. “You can start from anywhere knowing that anything is possible. If you have a certain dream, you can make it happen. In other places you just have to focus on one thing. You feel like you won’t accomplish much in other countries. But here in America, we have a lot of freedom and rights that will help us become bigger and better.”
Murillo’s parents immigrated to the United States from Mexico, making him a first generation college student. Murillo said he is concerned about how new immigration policies will affect the Latino communities.
“Even though I was born here in the United States, I’m still worried about my parents,” Murillo said. “Most of my aunts and uncles have immigrated here as well. It worries them a lot to see what could happen at any moment, especially with new government policies. They just want a better future for their families. To be honest, that’s why they came here to the United States. But it’s always on their minds, what will happen?”
Murillo said he believes immigrants not only want a better future for themselves, but that immigrants provide growth for America’s future as well.
“Everyone is diverse. We have our own talents, specializations and skills,” Murillo said. “When you take that away, you take away the good aspects of things that make America grow.”
Murillo said that by attending BYU-Idaho, he is a part of a supportive and inclusive community where everyone is seen as an equal.
“There is no barrier at all,” Murillo said. “Everyone sees each other as a friend, brother, or sister. We just love each other for who we are, no matter where we come from.”
Kelly Guzman, a freshman majoring in marriage and family studies, is a first-generation American citizen. Her maternal family immigrated from Mexico, while her father immigrated from Chile.
Guzman said that her family passed down the American dream to her through the sacrifices they made.
“My grandparents originally came to help their nine children from Mexico, then they had five more in the states,” she said. “From there, they just wanted for their prosperity to be blessed in ways that they never would have been able to, had they been back in Mexico. My dad who immigrated from Chile, started washing dishes and then eventually he became a probation officer.”
Guzman said that by obtaining an education at BYU-I, she is living out what her family wanted when coming to the United States.
“I feel like I owe it to them in a way, to do better and be better,” Guzman said. “I want to fulfill the vision they had in mind when they came here.”
Guzman said that she believes the statistics released by Pew Research accurately reflect the confusion and anxiety in Latino communities.
“Because a lot of us are first generation or second generation immigrants, it’s still new for a lot of us to be in this country. I think that it’s really prevalent because it reflects things that are happening now,” Guzman said.
BYU-I includes many different cultures through different clubs and activities on campus to show support for the diverse communities. Guzman said this has brought comfort and support to her identity as a Latino.
“I think it’s the little things, like the Spanish stadium singing and Latin dance. It’s little things like that, that help keep the spirit and culture alive,” Guzman said.