“But while I am scared, being afraid is something I have never not known. Since I was four years old, even today, it is always a constant. However, I also don’t let that disrupt my daily life because I feel like my presence in those places is the best kind of protest I can do,” Miguel Porfirio said.
Hispanic students at Texas State University have mobilized in response to raids conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in central Texas.
Some students have spoken out about how the raids affect student perceptions and safety on campus.
Dozens of Latina students gathered in an unused classroom in LBJ Student Center at Texas State University in a February meeting to chat with other Latinas, discuss events and listen to a presentation about staying healthy in college.
Latinas Unidas is a campus organization that provides support and empowerment to Hispanic female students on campus.
“This organization is for Latina students to come together and form a community,” Valeria Escalante, Latinas Unidas public relations officer, said.
Similar organizations include Hombres Unidos for Hispanic male students, and Student Community of Progressive Empowerment, or Scope, a student organization, which actively seeks students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status and undocumented students for membership.
“Scope provides resources for students who are unsure about their DACA status,” said Scope member Isabel Esparza.
When school-related topics were exhausted, assembled students were instructed on what to do if confronted by ICE agents.
Students were encouraged to refrain from opening doors to ICE agents without a warrant signed by a judge, as an administrative warrant of removal from immigration authorities would not be sufficient
Stories about ICE agents being sighted in San Marcos circulated, with students affirming other sightings along the IH-35 corridor, and rumor of a raid at Bobcat Day, when parents of high school DACA students could also be in attendance.
Texas State graduate student Ben Weiner wrote a petition in November 2016 requesting that administration designate the university a “sanctuary campus” to protect students’ identities and help students continue coursework online in deportation cases.
Gov. Greg Abbott posted a tweet in December 2016 pledging to strip state funding to any campus that declares itself a “sanctuary campus.”
A series of fliers pressing students to report the undocumented to federal authorities circulated campus, which prompted Texas State University President Denise Trauth to email students that the school would follow current law on maintaining student privacy.
Despite lingering fears about their status today and the possibility of deportation, many DACA students across the country are opening up the conversation about immigration and the Deferred Action program from an immigrant’s perspective.
Miguel Porfirio, a communication design junior and DACA student, is an outspoken Lesbian-Gay-Bi-Transgender-Queer-Intersex-Asexual supporter and a member of Hombres Unidos and Scope.
Porfirio expressed concern that the presidential administration has failed to consider the status of DACA students in the current immigration policy.
Porfirio is a member of the LBJ Debate Society and the Elton Abernathy Forensics Association. He transferred to Texas State from Del Mar College in Corpus Christi, Texas, and was originally interested in studying performing arts.
“Being undocumented limits my career choices,” Porfirio said. “I’ve always said if I was American I would probably have a few more gambling chips to pursue a career. And my parents always wanted me to have a more official career path with a title.”
Porfirio’s family moved from the Mexican state of Morelos and the pueblo of Atlatlahuca to Corpus Christi, TX in 1997 when Porfirio was four years old.
“My mom and dad sat me down when I started school and said, ‘listen, you need to understand that people do not want us here,” he said, “And they probably won’t want us here for a very long time. So you need to keep out of trouble and keep quiet. Don’t draw any attention to yourself.’ It kept me out of trouble, but it also kept me from doing a lot more in school.”
Porfirio said he was afraid to join organizations because he might have to travel, which made his parents nervous.
“There have been ICE raids in Austin, Houston and Dallas and my hometown, so I am always very nervous. But while I am scared, being afraid is something I have never not known. Since I was four years old, even today, it is always a constant. However, I also don’t let that disrupt my daily life because I feel like my presence in those places is the best kind of protest I can do,” he said.
Porfirio hopes to continue participating in debate and local organizations as well as teaching at a university after graduating in 2018.
“I would like to have a guiding hand in other students’ lives because my teachers had a huge impact on my life,” Porfirio said.