Undocumented student plans to fight back against federal, state immigration crackdown

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Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

As U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids continue to span the Austin area, UT undocumented student Karla Peredo said she wants to fight.

“My entire life I felt nothing less than an American,” Peredo said. “I consider myself an American, but in the last year or so, things have changed.”

Peredo, a government and international relations junior, said her parents immigrated to America from San Luis Potosí, Mexico, when she was three years old to provide a better education for her family.

“Parents sometimes move from another district to get to a better school system,” Peredo said. “But my parents just decided to move to another country.”

Peredo’s father started his own business in logistics and transportation of materials  across Texas but was forced to stop the business because he didn’t have a social security number, Peredo said.

“That’s definitely been one of the hardest parts is to see my parents not be able to reach their full potential because of a lack of a social security number,” Peredo said. “My parents are brilliant, and that’s what is holding them back.”

Peredo said she never had a reason to fear for the well-being of her parents until now.

Peredo is a member of University Leadership Initiative, a nonprofit youth-led organization run by undocumented students at the University advocating for the rights of undocumented individuals in the community. ULI started the “Texas Here to Stay” coalition, an association of advocacy groups who provide legal services and mobilization opportunities for undocumented individuals.

“Here in Texas we’re going to fight against (Senate Bill 4), and we’re also going to fight to protect tuition equity,” Peredo said. “The only reason I’m not paying international fees right now is because of tuition equity.”

Filed by state Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, on Feb. 7, SB 4 bans local municipalities from enacting sanctuary city policies, and it advanced a full vote in the Senate and awaits a House committee hearing.

Peredo started working at the Capitol in October under state Rep. Mary Gonzalez. D-Clint, a daily inspiration for her. Peredo said she got involved in government and politics because she would like to eventually go to law school to help undocumented individuals.

Peredo is a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program that gives a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation to undocumented individuals in the United States.

“Right now we’re not sure if it’s going to be renewed,” Peredo said. “We don’t think it is. It’s going to be another fight up ahead, to fight for something better than DACA, something more permanent than DACA.”

Peredo said her DACA status is set to expire next year, and she is uncertain what the future holds.

After she saw a sign in West Campus Saturday that read “USA: No Illegals,” Peredo said it has never been more important for undocumented people not to be afraid to step out of the shadows and let their country know they are here to stay.

“We’re American, we do our part, we pay our taxes (and) we’re part of our communities,” Peredo said. “That sign that said ‘no illegals’ was on a construction site. Undocumented peoples are quite literally building the city up. … And I think it should be known that we’re here to stay.”