Undocumented Student Stands Her Ground in Battle of Wills with Western Washingon University

Sep 9, 2017

Last June, Ana Ramirez headed to a meeting of the Western Washington University student government. She had just been elected as Vice President for Governmental Affairs and, as it turned out, the meeting was about her.

Ramirez, now a 19-year-old sophomore, is an undocumented immigrant, brought into the United States from Mexico when she was six months old. She had just learned from university administrators that she wouldn’t be allowed to assume the position she had campaigned for and won.

And sure enough, when she arrived at that meeting, she was told to leave.

“I was so mad. I was like, how dare you?” said Ramirez, now a sophomore. “Everyone recognizes me as the Vice President for Governmental Affairs except the administration.”

But rather than taking no for an answer, Ana conferred with the university’s adviser for undocumented students, and then she wrote up a press release. Ana had decided to go public.

“I’m not going to let them stop me. This is my position. It’s mine,” she said.

Complicating matters is that Ana does not have temporary status under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the Obama-era program intended to shield people like her from deportation. In fact she was in the middle of the application process when President Donald Trump announced he would be phasing out the program.

That adds new layers of uncertainty to Ana’s already unpredictable future. But she says DACA is sort of beside the point for her. She says even if she gets protected status before the program expires, she plans to keep fighting anyway.

“This isn’t about me anymore. It’s something bigger. It’s more about how undocumented people are treated, about how citizenship affects everything. It shouldn’t, and I’m not going to let it,” she said.