Meet Gustavo Lopez, journalism major student from Cerritos College.
Lopez found out he was an undocumented student at the age of 16.
He comes from a single mother household and when he tried to apply for a job and asked his mother for his social security that’s when he became aware, “I knew I wasn’t born here, but I didn’t know I didn’t have papers”.
When he graduated high school in 2011, he put college on hold because there was no type of financial aid he could receive.
“I went through a mild depression at that time, I asked myself what I was going to do and thought about joining the military and the saddest part was when I called and they asked for a social security”.
Once Obama created Dream Act on 2012 he took advantage and started school in 2013.
“With the Dream Act I can actually get the classes pay for with the bog waver, all I have to do is pay the books and the student fee”.
Lopez has worked at jobs that demand high physical activity and careless about the well-being.
“Theres places that do hire you as an illegal but they take advantage of you, they pay you less and give you more hours, or you get hurt they’re just like ‘you’re illegal your liability is not covered under us’”.
Without a job, it is a struggle to pay for college materials, “if I could get away without paying, then I won’t pay a book for class”.
As only being able to get his classes payed for, it bothers him to see students that receive complete financial aid spend it on luxury items rather than for school.
“A lot of people don’t have that and it’s sad to see people waste it, I think it gives a bad image of financial aid, there’s a mentality that undocumented students want free money when we only want to get the same opportunities as others and have a good education”.
There was defiantly an increase of fear from Lopez with President Donald Trump administration.
This year he doubted applying for financial aid, “What if I graduate and Trump cuts the deferred action? I’ll have a degree but I won’t be able to work, it makes me think of what the point of me getting an education is if I might end up in a job where people look down on you and call you names”.
His mother is what makes him want to continue, “I try to think about my mom and push through, she has done so much for us, it wouldn’t be fair for her”.
His English professor from high school, Philip Keller, also encouraged him to continue doing better, “He’s really invested in education and aware on a lot of issues, and wants us to do better”.
Keller said, “I don’t believe in borders in any kind of ultimate sense. I don’t believe that we, in the U.S., are scarce of resources in any kind of way that should necessitate our shutting down the entrance doors”
“Gus has a lot to contribute, and we would be significantly diminished not to have him here” ended Keller.
Lopez says, “at this point I just can’t give up, it’s inconceivable to me”.