WASHINGTON — Immigrants in Southern California are voicing anguish over President Donald Trump’s latest move to restrict the number of immigrants in the U.S. and those coming into the country during the pandemic.
This week, ICE mandated for all international students to leave the country if their classes had switched to online-only and the White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, suggested Trump was preparing further executive action on immigration issues.
One immigrant who lives in Southern California, Mauricio Jauregui, said he is worried about being forced to return to Monterrey, Mexico after his employment card expired right before the pandemic.
The 25-year-old lives in Los Angeles and recently finished school at Loyola Marymount University on an FY1 Visa. Jauregui, who studied film, started working with a notable production company that has produced shows with world-renowned chef Gordon Ramsey after graduation. Now, that his employment card has expired, he can’t work.
“It takes a lot of power out of you as a person because you feel constricted by all these things that you don’t have any control in,” Jauregui said.
The love of his life, Kate, wants to fight for him to stay. They dated for two years in college before getting married this year, and now Jauregui is applying for a marriage green card, but he said the process is complicated and vague.
“That’s the main thing that gets me nervous,” he said. “The application itself is kind of expensive; it is expensive. And you don’t want to mess it up because it means more months I cannot work; it means more time you have to put off things and more stress of not knowing if things will be okay if everything will be fine.”
While researching to fill out applications, Jauregui stumbled on a nonprofit, Immigrants Like Us, that offers free legal services for nationalization, family green card, and DACA renewal. Fernando Urbina is the partnership director whose goal is to find more immigrants to help.
“We have many users from California at the moment,” Urbina said. “And we are trying to reach out to more in the state because we know there are many immigrants in the state of California and we want to be here to support them.”
Urbina said hundreds of people have reached out to them in the last few weeks, attributing the rise to the uncertainty coming from the White House. Reports show the president is readying to refile paperwork to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programs, or DACA, after the Supreme Court ruled his administration tried to end the program the wrong way.
“[It is] disheartening to hear that the current administration wants to dismantle DACA again,” Urbina said. “Besides Native Americans, all of us have family members who have immigrated to the United States from somewhere and immigration is something that has tied us together and we strongly believe in helping individuals find love and happiness in the United States.”
Jauregui has an immigrant friend who is still in school. His friend said he’s dreading to learn his college's decision on whether classes will be held online and whether he will be allowed to stay in the states for school. Jauregui said the fear is all around him in the immigrant community and said he just hopes for the best for him and his wife.
“We fell in love with L.A. with the art and creativity here,” Jauregui said. “We love each other. She’s the best thing that has happened. We want to keep growing together.”
He said Immigrants like Us is making that dream come true and hopes others will reach out for help as well.
Immigrants Like Us relies on donations. For more information, visit their website immigrantslikeus.org.