Hispanic Immigrant Students Pursuit of Postsecondary Education Isn’t Easy


Emily Hernandez Alvarez

Many students have more than one nationality and may be citizens in more than one country, but have decided to come to the United States of America in search of a better future.

Emily Alvarez, Staff Writer

Verrado is home to many cultures and traditions, and some are usually taken for granted. This is the case with many Latin American students, not only in our school but in many schools across the country.

For undocumented students, graduating high school is possible, but when it comes to going to college, that is a completely different matter.

About 2,000 immigrant students graduate from high school in the state of Arizona every year.

In 2021, the total apprehension of children (ages 0 to 17) coming accompanied or unaccompanied by an adult entering the United States illegally was about 293,218 (accompanied) and 140,230 (unaccompanied), according to data statistics submitted by Syracuse University in New York State.

Most of these kids get deported and returned to their country of origin or are kept as refugees in asylums. The ones who do make it across the border seek out family and strive to have a normal life, or what a normal life could look like for them.

The children who manage to go to school face many challenges, beginning with the language barrier, not having legal papers, financial problems, and more.

And those who reach high school graduation have almost no chance of going to college if they are undocumented.

Verrado Seniors getting ready to graduate is a few weeks before moving on to college. (Emily Alvarez)

Even if undocumented students plan to attend a college or university, they cannot receive financial aid.

Laws and regulations regarding undocumented students change constantly, therefore, every student should keep up with important information updates about them.

There is, of course, one option for these students, they can apply to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA.

Out of the 7,410,000 Hispanic undocumented residents in the country, only 427,000 of these students are enrolled in postsecondary education, and only 181,000 are DACA eligible.

DACA is a United States immigration policy that helps undocumented students in the country. It helps them by giving them the chance of receiving a two-year period of deferred action from deportation. This allows them to be able to acquire a work permit in the country and renew it.

Unlike the DREAM Act, DACA does not help students seek a path to citizenship.

This program was implemented in 2012 by the Obama Administration and was later announced as ended by the Trump Administration in 2017. Another option would be the DREAM Act of 2023. This act helps Dreamers by letting them apply for conditional legality and maybe even helping them become citizens someday…

The Viper Times spoke to students in Verrado High School about this issue, these were their responses:

[Disclamer, these were all translated to English for the sake of our readers.]

“I’m originally from Mexico, Sinaloa but was born in the United States. I know at least 70% of the English language, and I hope that after graduating I’ll be able to go to college” said Freshman Randy Montoya.

With so few resources to help immigrant students (both documented and undocumented), hope and faith of someday getting a degree are usually shut out.

Celestino Molina, a Sophomore in VHS, also wanted to tell some of his story. “I don’t know much of the English language, but I think I can keep a simple conversation going so far. I was indeed born in this country, but I grew up in Mexico and came here two years ago…”

Molina continued, “As for college…I have zero chances to go to college. So after high school, I’ll seek work.”

I have zero chances to go to college.

— Celestino Molina

Some students though, still have enthusiasm and faith in someday achieving their goals and maybe getting a degree.

“I was born and raised in Nicaragua, and moved here about… six months ago,” said Hamilton Pozo. “I understand the language, but I speak nothing of it, but I know I’ll have a chance of going to college someday. I have faith in that.”

The author of this story is also a Hispanic student who was born and raised in Honduras.

She moved to the United States two years ago, during her sophomore year. She can agree with her fellow peers that moving to this country is not an easy job.

Being met with a whole different culture, and risking the loss of their own just for a chance of a brighter future. It is certainly a task for those with strong character.

Unlike other kids in her country, she was born a U.S. citizen and now takes advantage of the opportunities that brings. She is a senior and will attend college this fall.

For those of you out there who have moved here to seek a better future learn the language, study or even get a job, look for scholarships. Persevere and your dreams will push you forward.