“I think a lot of people don’t really know what DACA is. People think [Trump] can’t really do anything about it, but they don’t really understand the difference between an executive order and the law,” she said. “He can literally just take that piece of paper and throw it in the trash and that will be it. It won’t mean anything anymore.”
Fear of a Trump presidency is in fact prompting many to shy away from applying for the program or from renewing their paperwork out of fear their information will be used by the government to initiate deportation proceedings against them.
Growing up in the Valley shaped me. It made me who I am and the problems I’m passionate to solve. Merced is home, and it’s desperately in need of help. Our crime rate is among the nation’s highest. Over a third of our people [live] below the poverty line, and our children suffer from epidemics of chronic disease. But we also have world-class resources and, if we do things right, a chance to really reinvent Merced and transform the region that raised me.
Renteria has been working with Students Advocating Law and Education (SALE), a UC Merced group comprised of undocumented students and allies that has been promoting voter registration on campus this fall. A week of registration and voter education events are planned for Oct. 18 through 21, in the lead up to California’s deadline on Oct. 24.
“Many of the students I talk to know there are undocumented people, but they just don’t know there are undocumented students,” she says. “Once you find a way to relate it to them though, it’s easier for them to understand the importance [of the issue] and pay attention.”
“It’s really important that the communities who are disenfranchised and have been ignored for so long, turn out and vote. They have power and they can help make a change,” said Brenda Gutierrez, organizing director of Associated Students of University of California, Merced (ASUCM).
The 20-year-old university student spent a majority of her summer going door-to-door in Merced County to help spread the word about several ballot measures and campaigns this year. Her work was part of the ASUCM external office “We Vote” program, a statewide initiative across the UC campuses aimed at getting students more involved in elections.
Though the numbers are grim, perhaps the tide is beginning to turn. A bright spot: on Friday May 22nd, the 52nd Annual Commencement ceremony at Merced College took place and of the 1,180 degrees and certificate awarded, a majority went to Latinos.