Perez, Ruby

Ruby Perez studies journalism at San Francisco State University.

A Tale of Two Undocumented Graduates

By Ruby Perez
New America Media

Raul Rodriguez and Alberto Ledesma live parallel lives. Both proudly claim UC Berkeley as their alma mater. Both have worked hard academically. And both have published personal essays about the stigma of being an undocumented student.

But that’s where their lives diverge. Ledesma was fortunate enough to gain amnesty via the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), federal legislation that granted amnesty to immigrants who entered the U.S. before 1986. Rodriguez, on the other hand, remains undocumented because legislation like IRCA no longer exists.

“At any point, I felt that I could be deported,” recalls Ledesma. But his anxiety dissipated after the passage of IRCA in 1986. “I went from being a B- student to being an A+ student because once that stress (of being deported) is removed [and] you have that sense of freedom, almost like you get high from it, it makes you a different person.”