We asked for your immigration stories — and you shared them. Bert Johnson/KQED
We asked for your immigration stories — and you shared them. (Bert Johnson/KQED)

PHOTOS: The Faces of California's Immigrant Story

PHOTOS: The Faces of California's Immigrant Story

When President Trump's first immigration order temporarily went into effect on Jan. 27, and we began to see its impact at airports and hear stories about how it was touching many people's lives nationwide, we decided to try to capture some of those tales.

We created a form, asking people to share their immigration stories, and people did — 56 of them. They mostly weren't stories about the impact of the travel ban. Rather, they were stories that reflect the rich diversity California is known for. They were stories of people whose families had immigrated a generation prior from the Philippines, South Korea, Pakistan, Mexico, India and more. They were tales of people whose parents settled in the U.S. because of conflict in their home country, such as in Iran and El Salvador. They were stories of undocumented youth, known as Dreamers, who had signed up for former President Obama's DACA (or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program — and in one case, a young man who didn't, because he didn't want to be a "sitting duck" if Obama's successor didn't keep the program. And there were people who came on work visas, such as the H-1B often used in Silicon Valley, and for love, such as a gay British man who married his American boyfriend.

We reached out to as many of the people who'd completed the form as we could (some asked not to be contacted, some did not reply and some stories were so similar that we decided not to duplicate them), and took portraits of some of those who could meet up with us.

A fun note to share: A human geography teacher at Lowell High School in San Francisco offered extra credit to his students who completed our form (and 24 of them did). We did this project in collaboration with The California Report Magazine, which reported on the stories of four California immigrants (one who completed our form) whose lives are in limbo. You can read their stories here.

We hope you enjoy these stories because — though they may differ from your family's experience — they are all part of the California story.

An undocumented immigrant from LA County says the Trump administration's actions justifies his fear of "not obtaining my DACA status all these years, I do not want to be a sitting duck."
An undocumented immigrant from L.A. County says the Trump administration's actions justify his fear of "not obtaining my DACA status all these years. I do not want to be a sitting duck." (Courtesy of anonymous)

Anonymous, undocumented, Los Angeles County
My father came here without a visa or work permit, undocumented, and left all family back in Mexico. My mother, my two siblings and I were left back in Mexico City. He sent money for us and worked hard to save up enough to get all of us visas to enter the USA the safest way possible, with a B-1/B-2 or legally.

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The Trump administration justifies my fear for not obtaining my DACA status all these years; I do not want to be a sitting duck.

I came to the Bay Area when I was 10 years old and started the fifth grade without knowing the language. I hold a bachelor of science which I paid for out of pocket.

My field grants me access to sensitive data of a business or enterprise and I've always been afraid of leaving my workplace in fear of having to be e-verified if I’m rehired elsewhere that may be a government subcontractor.

Unfortunately for me, I was stupid to gamble with moving forward and working at a Google-like perks and pay tech job — I was hired and let go after two weeks.

The laws now enforcing extreme vetting are very much in full effect. If this continues and tougher laws are enforced, such as verifying I-9 employment eligibility verification with e-verify through USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services), not only members of my family and myself but a whole lot of illegals who are hired by a lot of businesses will be out of work.

This is sad because most are low-level/low-wage jobs or small businesses that rarely follow such procedures and only do the minimum, which is to file away a copy of an ID and social security card in case of an audit.

Having stayed under the radar for so long while doing my due diligence will no longer work out for me and plenty of others.

Instead, the system has taken advantage to our detriment and used us for cheap labor. Now, they intend to further degrade us and keep us living in fear or simply toss us out for being "Bad Hombres."

Gokul Gunasekaran was photographed on the campus of Stanford University, his alma mater, on March 6, 2017. He entered the U.S. on a student visa and was able to stay by securing a work visa.
Gokul Gunasekaran was photographed on the campus of Stanford University, his alma mater, on March 6, 2017. He entered the U.S. on a student visa and was able to stay by securing a work visa. (Bert Johnson/KQED)

Gokul Gunasekaran, H-1B visa holder, Sunnyvale
I came to Stanford to pursue my graduate studies in electrical engineering. I graduated in 2011 and since then I've been working as a software engineer. I started my career at a bigger company. I worked there for three years. Since then, I've been working at a smaller startup in Palo Alto for close to three years.

Initially, as one could imagine, getting admitted to Stanford, with all the tuition taken care of, was a dream come true. I experienced no issues getting my student visa as well. It was great. Up till then, my immigration story was very smooth.

Only after I graduated from Stanford did I realize the problems associated with working on a work visa in the United States. The system is definitely not encouraging folks to be independent, free, and to move from companies. It's not very straightforward at all. The laws are very complex. For the first few years, it was OK because I was just starting to work for the first time in my life. Immigration was not my primary concern.

Once I wanted to switch jobs, that's when I realized how painful it was going to be to even just move from one company to another, let alone starting my own business — which is almost impossible to do. It's been downhill since then.

Now, I've come to a point where I've spent close to eight years in this country and I'm starting to doubt whether I should still pursue this arduous journey here or should I give up and go back to my home country or another country like Canada or Australia, where they are welcoming to a lot more highly skilled immigrants.

The issue is primarily with the green card process. They give out 140,000 green cards* per year; no more than 7 percent can go to one specific country. For people who are born in India, we are looking at a wait time of more than 50 years. I'll probably be 70 or maybe even dead by the time I'm actually eligible to get my green card. That is the biggest issue.

The second thing is also the mobility on the H-1B visa. For example, let's say I want to switch to another company. The company sponsors me, but then I have to go back and start the process all over again (that's generally what happens and in any case, it doesn't change the fact that I'll have to wait so many years).

The last problem is, for example, let's say I have been here 10 or 15 years, and my company is not doing well. If they lay me off, I have to leave the country within 10 days. I'm basically being penalized because I was born in India. That is the root cause of the problem.

As far as the executive orders are concerned, I'm kind of scared right now to go back to visit my parents because I'm worried … whether the consulate will actually give me a stamp to come back to the country.

Overall, the uncertainties toward travel, whether we will get our visa stamping, whether our work visas will be renewed -- these are all adding quite a bit of anxiety to the high-skilled immigrant community. That's it in a nutshell.

Every time I go back home or when I talk to my parents, they ask me if I’m close to getting my green card or do I have any permanency and I tell them, “No. It's not happening.” They ask me, “What's the point of all this? Just come back home and stay with us and stay close with family.” That is a decision that's been moving up on my things to do and I'm seriously considering that, unfortunately.

The system here is totally broken. I think my American Dream has been pretty much shattered to pieces and I feel like I could have done a lot more with my career back home.

Hear more from Gunasekaran and others about the debate over H-1B visas.

Yibi's husband, Maguiber, was detained by ICE on February 9.
Heras' husband, Maguiber, was detained by ICE on Feb. 9. (Erasmo Martinez/KQED)

Yibi Heras, wife of Guatemalan immigrant detained by ICE, Oakland
I have been in Oakland for four years and I've been in the United States for 10 years. I met my husband, Maguiber,* at work and that's where everything started.  We have three children.

(Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested her husband at their Oakland home shortly after 5 a.m. in February.)

I was washing dishes and I saw some people outside and I didn't know who they were. I thought maybe they were robbers. And so I went to go get my husband. And then they were already knocking on the window.

They said they were "police" investigating a case of hit-and-run. They asked Maguiber, "Can you show us your registration papers that you have for your car?"

So my husband went out. He opened the car up. He got the papers out and then a man came up behind him and I saw that he showed my husband a paper. And that's when he (my husband) said, "Yibi, it's immigration."

They started asking him questions. "Do you have children? Are you married?"  He said, "Yes, I have three" kids. And when I saw that he was going to keep responding to the questions I told him, "Keep your mouth shut! You don't need to answer anything. It's going to be worse for you if you keep answering them."

And that's when the person that had been asking him questions turned to me asking, "Do you have children? Are you married?" And I asked him, "Do you have a warrant?" And then he said, "No, it's OK. We only came for him."

They basically lied to him to get him to come outside. And that seems unfair, that seems wrong. So that's why I want to speak out. I would like to warn people who maybe they don’t have to respond to questions.

(*Maguiber’s attorney asked that we use only his first name while his case is pending.  She believes a recent arrest for reckless driving put him on ICE’s radar. Maguiber first came to the U.S. a decade ago.  He was soon deported to Guatemala but returned after a notorious gang there attacked him and threatened his life.)

Like all of us, he's made mistakes, but he's not dangerous. You can't say someone’s dangerous based on immigration status or nationality. There are a lot of dangerous people who are born here in the U.S. It depends on the way that you're brought up — not where you're from.

When this happened, I was afraid to come back home. But I can't live with fear. I have three children. The oldest has a disability. I stopped working because he had an operation and it didn't make sense to pay somebody to take care of him. But now I have to look for other funds to keep surviving.

(An immigration judge will hold a hearing in June on whether to allow Maguiber to stay in the U.S. Read more about the family's story)

We’re optimistic that everything turns out well, but we know that the judge has the last word.

Listen to the full The California Report immigration special:

Living in Limbo: California Immigrant Stories in Trump's America

Living in Limbo: California Immigrant Stories in Trump's America

Download

Saber Askar stands outside his apartment in East Porterville. A U.S. citizen, he is struggling to bring his family to the U.S. from Yemen.
Saber Askar stands outside his apartment in East Porterville. A U.S. citizen, he is struggling to bring his family to the U.S. from Yemen. (Vanessa Rancano/KQED)

Saber "Moe" Askar, naturalized U.S. citizen, East Porterville (Tulare County)
My dad was a U.S. citizen, and when I was 15 he told me to come here (from Yemen). I came to Michigan. It was a hard time. I only had summer clothes; I was freezing. I worked in factories, and I applied for my citizenship.

There are a couple of things that are the best times in my life — one of them was becoming an American citizen. It’s the best thing I have.

About eight years ago, my cousin said, “Please, can you help me with my store?” So I moved to California, and I love it here. But it doesn’t matter what I’m doing, there’s nothing to make me happy because my family is not with me.

(Moe would go back to visit Yemen for extended stays over the years. During one such stay, he married. He’d return home for long trips.)

I’ve always wanted them to come here, but I was waiting for the right time. I wanted to find a good job and get a house. Then the war started. I want them out; I want to save them.

It’s been two years now, and nobody stops killing. There is no gas, no electricity; they don’t have enough food to eat. My middle daughter, I think she’s about to lose her mind. She’s very skinny. She cannot eat. She’s scared because she hears the bombing.

I try to explain to them, “Just give me a little time and then you guys are going to be here, then you guys are going to be OK.” They make me bleed inside when I talk to them. I don’t know what to do. Every time I call I’m afraid they won’t answer anymore.

I want to die in this country because I love this country, but what’s happening with the new president here, it shocked me bad.

I was thinking my kids were going to come here and have a safe life, a normal life, and go to school and have a future. But they’re not welcome here. There’s no place for my kids —  not in Yemen, not here. So where can we go? I really feel insulted. Even if you’re an American citizen, you’re nothing. Nothing.

Learn more about Askar’s story on The California Report.

Roya Soleimani was photographed in her home in San Francisco on March 1, 2017. Her parents came to the U.S. from Iran in the 1970s to earn their doctorate degrees at the University of the Pacific and weren't able to return because of the Iranian Revolution.
Roya Soleimani was photographed in her home in San Francisco on March 1, 2017. Her parents came to the U.S. from Iran in the 1970s to earn their doctorate degrees at the University of the Pacific and weren't able to return home because of the Iranian Revolution. (Bert Johnson/KQED)

Roya Soleimani, child of immigrants, San Francisco
My parents' immigration story is part of the vibrant mosaic and fabric of the United States. They came from Iran on student visas to attend the University of the Pacific in Stockton for their doctoral education in sociology and psychology. They finished in 1979, and with the revolution chaotically unfolding in Iran, they weren't able to return.

They have called Stockton home since 1973, and have now spent more of their lives here. With their Ph.D.s in hand, and no option to return to Iran, they made the most of their situation. They could not find work in their respective fields because of the hostage crisis in Iran and the perception people have about them for being Iranian.

My dad turned his talent of sewing into a business and has owned a tailor shop since 1982. My mom turned her education and passion for children into her life's work, and transformed a humble home daycare into a preschool, kindergarten and child-care center, with nearly 50 kids.

They have been proud citizens since the '90s and have voted in every election since they could vote. They are active in their community, members of Rotary, and raised my sister and I with pride for our hyphenated Iranian-American identity.

I was born and raised in Stockton, and have held both sides of my cultural identity with so much pride. I speak Persian fluently, and happily balanced the rich culture, food, music and traditions of my parents’ homeland with my civic service, activism and patriotic nature of my American identity.

Daniel Maher was photographed at the Ecology Center in Berkeley on April 20, 2017. He supervises the center's fleet of trucks and trains at risk youth in green collar jobs.
Daniel Maher was photographed at the Ecology Center in Berkeley on April 20, 2017. He supervises the center's fleet of trucks and trains at-risk youth in green-collar jobs. (Bert Johnson/KQED)

Daniel Maher, former green-card holder, Hayward
When I was 3 years old, my family emigrated from Macau (a former Portuguese colony that’s now a Chinese autonomous region) to the United States. We were in Union City for a brief period. My grandparents operated a flower-growing business there, and we would stay with them, help with the family business, and then, the family business kind of picked up and left and moved to San Jose.

I usually associated with certain individuals that really were misfits, I don't know why. Probably because I kept moving a lot in a short period of time. It was hard to make friends right away. Misfits are there for one reason or another. Maybe they were looked at as nerds as well. A lot of my friends were in gifted education, so we would bounce ideas all the time, good or bad, I’m not going to say.

I’d just about turned 21 and I still had the same friends but they were off doing something else. I knew what they were doing. They had planned to rob drug dealers, and they had somebody else who was supposed to go with them. That person was unable to make it, so rather than scrap their plans they asked me.

(Daniel was arrested and served five years for felony armed robbery and attempted kidnapping; his green card was revoked and his future in the U.S. is uncertain because Trump has vowed to deport violent felons.)

I understand the underlying reasoning behind deporting violent felons, and I'm really not opposed to it. I've had a very short period of my life where I was actually that person who was convicted.

Since then I've been a completely different person. So does one moment in time justify changing a person's life for the long term or can we change it for the better? Can we give that person a second chance because he's shown that he's changed? I'm all for that second chance, but I would certainly understand if they wouldn't allow it.

The chance of being deported is on my mind all the time. I have all these plans, a lot of things that I want to get done. Is it going to be interrupted?

Learn more about Maher’s story on The California Report.

A British man married his Mexican-American partner after a drawn-out process in which he briefly became undocumented.
A British man married his Mexican-American partner after a drawn-out process in which he briefly became undocumented. (Courtesy of anonymous)

Anonymous, permanent resident, San Francisco Bay Area
I entered on a tourist visa and have since married my Mexican-American partner and gained permanent residency after a very stressful, drawn-out, expensive application starting in NYC and now ending in the Bay Area.

I became undocumented as I "overstayed" my 90-day tourist visa while awaiting paperwork (from the UK) that I was told I'd need by the Office of the City Clerk in NYC, delaying our wedding. The irony being that the paperwork wasn't needed after all. But because we followed the rules we were told by a government official, I then became classed as undocumented ("illegal").

How do you think Trump's new executive actions/orders could impact your family?
My same-sex marriage could be reneged by the new administration and/or I could get deported due to being undocumented briefly before marrying, and my husband would then face the same sorts of issues trying to immigrate to the UK with me.

Nicole Fernandez was photographed at home in San Mateo on Feb. 28, 2017. Her parents and grandparents immigrated to the U.S. from Pakistan in the 1980s.
Nicole Fernandez was photographed at home in San Mateo on Feb. 28, 2017. Her parents and grandparents immigrated to the U.S. from Pakistan in the 1980s. (Bert Johnson/KQED)

Nicole Fernandez, child of immigrants, San Mateo
My parents immigrated from Karachi, Pakistan, with visas the year before I was born in 1982.

I really feel like being the child of immigrants shaped who I became. My parents and grandparents are literally the American Dream. They came over with nothing, minimal support from family. Until I was 30, I lived in a multigenerational home with my parents and grandparents.

My parents worked really hard. My dad's a welder. He works with his hands. My mom's in the medical industry. Medical care. She works for Sutter. I'm just so proud of what they've been able to achieve considering their very humble roots.

My grandparents are in their 80s. They live in Palo Alto and you won't meet anyone who loves this country more than my parents and grandparents. They haven't had it easy. They taught us a lot about hard work and giving back to our nation.

Immigration still affects my family. I have many family members, cousins, second cousins who immigrated illegally. They now are all citizens and they are raising their children in this country.

Where we are nationally, I fear that more people are going to be going underground and as a society, we're not going to be benefiting from the beautiful diversity that immigration brings because so many people are going to be afraid to leave their homes or will self-deport back to their country of origin.

Enrique Yarce was photographed on March 1, 2017, at Santa Rosa Junior College, where he is a student and activist. His parents brought him to the U.S. from Mexico when he was 3 years old.
Enrique Yarce Martinez was photographed on March 1, 2017, at Santa Rosa Junior College, where he is a student and activist. His parents brought him to the U.S. from Mexico when he was 3 years old. (Bert Johnson/KQED)

Enrique Yarce Martinez, DACA recipient, Santa Rosa
We came through border checks (from Mexico). I was in the trunk, for part of the journey, and then the back, covered with a blanket. My parents say it's a miracle that the patroller didn't see me.

I am DACA, so, slightly less illegal, I've heard. I saw a really good play in Santa Rosa, and they were talking about that, and they put it really well, because DACA isn't really a path to citizenship, like a lot of people think. It's like $500 every two years for it.

We're at risk for being deported. I've lived here 19 years of my life in this country. I'm an American. If I were to be deported, it'd be such a culture shock. I love Mexico. From what I hear, obviously the government has a lot of issues, but the country's beautiful, but still, I wouldn't feel the same. This is my home, it always has been.

I always internalized this part of my identity for a very long time, because it's scary to think about. It's scary because it's very real. I remember one time my dad was trying to tell us, my mom and I, to say we're Chilean or something, because Mexico's having a lot of attention, with all the immigration and stuff.

My mom was like, "No, I'm proud of being a Mexican. I'm not going to hide from that." Yeah, I didn't really know yet, but I felt that way. Later, as I got older, I think about that a lot, and that was really important to me — how my mom stood up like that.

I'm proud of who I am, and my identity is complicated, but it's still who I am, and it's made me into the person I am.

How do you think Trump's new executive actions/orders could impact your family?
It's very uncertain. I know it's taken me awhile to finally feel like I can go to school and continue my education. I want to be a social worker, my major is sociology.

I was always interested in activism, community organizing. I do that stuff, I love it — it's my life. I want to continue to do that, I want to continue to help people, so it just feels ... I feel really paralyzed a lot of the times, because I don't know if all my work will just go down the drain, you know?

Same with my parents, we were homeless when we first moved here, and that was rough, but they still managed to get out of that, I don't even know how.

That's incredible, with a child and everything, they were doing crime scene cleanups, and cleaning offices, and just anything they could do to get money. You can get two tacos for $1 at Jack in the Box, and we would just eat that, a lot. I still like it.

I'm worried about my parents. I've talked to my mom about it, what it's like for her to not really have an identity in this country. She doesn't have any sort of identification. She's always felt, kind of, trapped. They live in Lake County, and there's not a lot of people of color at all, especially where we live.

We're just here, trying to live our lives. We're human like everyone else.

I remember this one time, I was watching a video about some lawyers on United Way and this woman at the end was like, "I know things are hard right now. I know that it seems really bleak, but, we can do this. We can win. We can improve our lives. …"

I cried so much, I didn't even know ... I needed to hear that, but I really did because that stuff was really getting to me. Just the internalization.

I've gotten messages because I comment on things, and I'm like, "You're wrong, you know, I'm not a demon." Then people will message me, and threaten to call ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) or whatever, and I'm just like, "OK."

There's a lot of hate, and that's really scary to me — that people would hate me just because I was brought here.

Janet del Mundo, far right, with her mom and sister in 1987. Del Mundo's grandfather fought for the U.S. in WW2, earning him U.S. citizenship. He was able to petition for his children, including del Mundo's mom.
Janet del Mundo, far right, with her mom and sister in 1987. Del Mundo's grandfather fought for the U.S. in World War II, earning him U.S. citizenship. (Courtesy of Janet del Mundo)

Janet del Mundo, naturalized U.S. citizen, San Francisco
My grandfather was in the Philippine Navy during WWII and fought on the side of the Americans. Because of this, he was granted U.S. citizenship and was able to petition for his children, including my mother.

How do you think Trump's new executive actions/orders could impact your family?

I am fortunate enough to have naturalized legally through a family petition. However, I have many friends and family members who don't have the same opportunities. It's unfair and it dishonors the history of this country, which was, in fact, built by immigrants. Trump's policies will divide families and make us weaker as a nation.

What does growing up in an immigrant family in the U.S. mean to you?
For me, growing up in an immigrant family in the U.S. means courage, hard work and sacrifice. My mom left behind her home and built up a life from scratch, at one point working two jobs, all to give her children a better life. It's kind of a cliche to say "the American Dream," but that's really what this country is built on.

Olivia and her husband walk together after their civil ceremony at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, December 2016. They wanted to get married and start Olivia's application for legal status before President Trump took office.
Olivia and her husband walk together after their civil ceremony at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, December 2016. They wanted to get married and start Olivia's application for legal status before President Trump took office. (Courtesy of Olivia)

Olivia*, DACA recipient, San Francisco Bay Area
I'm originally from Mexico. The whole entire family came here in 1999 and we settled down in San Jose. I started fifth grade I believe when we just arrived. And we have been in San Jose ever since. We call it our home. I live in San Francisco now; we've always been in the Bay Area.

I was finally going to have the wedding that I had always envisioned (in fall 2017), but then Nov. 8 (Trump’s election) happened and I panicked because I didn't know what was going to be my fate and that of my brother in this country.

My birthday is Nov. 17, so that was probably the worst birthday I've ever had. I was pretty depressed. My boyfriend tried cheering me up, but I was just bummed. I didn't know what was going to happen.

It's just one thing after the other. It's just unbelievable. There's so much uncertainty and it makes you feel so helpless.

You have to sit back and wait and watch and see what happens. It's not a nice way to live, to have to turn on the TV or have to open up social media or have to follow a newspaper and read that these things are happening. There is no more -- there isn't protection for people with DACA. There just isn't.

I never pressured him to marry because I didn't need it. You know I was OK. I don't need to travel outside of the States. I have my immediate family here so I don't have anything kind of holding me back in Mexico. This is my life. I was OK with staying here being like in a cage.

*Olivia isn’t her real name; she asked to remain anonymous out of fear of deportation. Learn more about Olivia’s story on The California Report.

Erika Lee was photographed at Lowell High School in San Francisco, where she is a student, on March 6, 2017. Her parents and grandparents immigrated from South Korea in 1991.
Erika Lee was photographed at Lowell High School in San Francisco, where she is a student, on March 6, 2017. Her parents and grandparents emigrated from South Korea in 1991. (Bert Johnson/KQED)

Erika Lee, child of immigrants, San Francisco
On my dad’s side, my grandpa, his wife and three kids decided to emigrate out of South Korea in 1991 so that they could have a better future. My dad came with his older and younger sisters, and a few months later, my grandparents came and they bought a house. We still live in the same house today.

My mom’s side is from North Korea. My great-grandparents were civilians affected by the Korean War in 1950. They had to keep moving south, which was safer for the family. So they went to a city in South Korea.

They didn’t have enough money so they decided to move to the United States in 1982, as one big family, for a better life and to get a better education. They migrated to Bay Farm Island (in Alameda), where all the kids went to school and graduated.

But as time went by, my grandpa wanted to move to a place near his job so the whole family moved to San Leandro, where my mom and dad met and married. They lived there for about three years with me, and then my family moved to my dad’s parents’ house in S.F. (that's because of a Korean tradition in which the eldest son and his family live with their parents).

That is how my family migrated to America. My family was part of the migration stream: Lots of people were moving to the United States because of the opportunities to have better lives and wealth.

Judy Christopher emigrated from Canada to the U.S. decades ago. She got citizenship last year. Here she is with her daughter.
Judy Christopher emigrated from Canada to the U.S. She got citizenship last year. She is pictured here with her daughter, Loha. (Courtesy of Judy Christopher)

Judy Christopher, naturalized U.S. citizen, Oakland
I came on a tourist visa from Canada. Clearly moving. Two suitcases filled with personal belongings, important papers, photo albums, and with my cat and dog, on a one-way flight from Toronto to San Francisco.

Overstayed my visa. Applied for permanent resident status after marrying an American. Was waved through at customs after secondary screening with a "looks like you are moving — don't let us catch you working" warning. White privilege!

I worked for cash cleaning houses. I used the medical system to have my son without cost to me. And everyone kept saying, "Oh, it's different with you." The only difference was my skin color.

How do you think Trump's new executive actions/orders could impact your family?
I got my citizenship a month before the election so I could vote against Trump. While I'm not worried about anyone in my family being deported (my three kids were born here), I am worried about other families.

Trump's "victory" will impact my family in that we will become more resolved resisters and more active in civil society.

Sara Mostafavi, an Iranian-American immigration lawyer, on a visit to Morocco.
Sara Mostafavi, an Iranian-American immigration lawyer, on a visit to Morocco. (Courtesy of Sara Mostafavi)

Sara Mostafavi, dual Iranian-U.S. citizen, Danville
I am an Iranian-American dual national by virtue of having been born here and having parents that are Iranian citizens. I am also an immigration attorney who represents many clients from Iran.

The new executive order has the effect of freezing travel between Iran and the U.S. for anyone who is not a U.S. citizen (Editor’s note: The ban is currently being challenged in court and has been stayed).

My clients are scared, worried, anxious, and are separated from loved ones. They have PTSD from the post-9/11 immigration horror stories and they are reliving those moments again.

I have been playing part-attorney, part-therapist and part-fortune teller (without the benefit of a functioning crystal ball) when speaking to family, friends, community members and clients about the reverberations of this (Trump’s) executive order.

Sarah Rao with her parents at SeaWorld San Diego. Today, Rao, an 18-year-old high school senior, reflects on her dual identities.
Sarah Rao an 18-year-old high school senior, reflects on her dual identities. Right, with her parents at SeaWorld San Diego as a kid. (Courtesy of Sarah Rao)

Saradha (Sarah) Rao, child of immigrants, San Francisco
My parents (from India) married in their 20s and moved here once my father was awarded an H-1B visa. I was born a year later. My father continued his work for the next 10 years working by contract with companies that would endorse the extensions for his stay.

Around 2012, my mother became a U.S. citizen and my father, later the next year.

How do you think Trump's new executive actions/orders could impact your family?
My family is currently low income and dependent on welfare. I am also a student who is about to enter college, so we are extremely vulnerable to any of his actions, financially.

What does growing up in an immigrant family in the U.S. mean to you?
Growing up in an immigrant family is definitely complicated. It's comparable to a balancing act. You have such direct roots to your parents' culture but also feel so much pressure to assimilate. To me it's been a lot about self-discovery. As a young child I equally expressed both halves of me, Indian and American, without shame or discrimination.

As I grew older and I became more self-conscious and experienced bits of racism and xenophobia, I started to try to suppress my heritage. If I showed any interest, it was only at home around my parents. Outside of the house, I'd be utterly embarrassed at any association with India unless it was from another's praise.

I am a senior in high school and am just about to graduate. In high school, I was lucky to have found an environment that is accepting, and peers who have embraced me, and diversity in general.

Over the last four years, I've truly come to love and appreciate the complex relationship between my identity and my heritage. I constantly research online and ask my parents questions. In this time, I have also developed a nationalistic pride equal to that I feel for America, although I recognize that both have a long way to go before either are perfect.

So growing up in an immigrant family means self-discovery and place-finding for me. No, being an immigrant or a first-generation citizen should not be defining. But it does mean something in who you are and what you bring to the table.

It can be a struggle to balance the societal pressures and views of your family's origin and your cultural ties, but sooner or later you figure out that you don't have to compromise.

Sergio Herrera's parents came from El Salvador and Mexico. Herrera, a high school student in San Francisco, is pictured center in each photo with his mom, Maria, dad, Sergio, and brother, Joshua.
Sergio Herrera's parents came from El Salvador and Mexico. Herrera, a high school student in San Francisco, is pictured center in each photo with his mom, Maria, dad, Sergio, and brother, Joshua. (Courtesy of Sergio Herrera)

Sergio Herrera, child of immigrants, San Francisco
My family's migration starts from two Latin American countries, Mexico and El Salvador.

My dad was born in Mexico and migrated to America at 18 to find a way to support his poor family back in Mexico, who were living in a hut. He knew he wouldn't be able to support them in Mexico where jobs are really low-paying, so he decided to take a risk that millions of people have taken: jump the border in order to have a better life and higher-paying jobs.

Obviously, he had to face major obstacles since he entered the country illegally. He had to survive a two-week trip from his hometown to the border fence. He would then have to take another 24 hours to get through the border.

His goal was San Francisco since he had friends there, and after a long trip he made it. Eventually, he was able to get his green card and his citizenship, and save enough money for his family back home to build a house.

My mother was born in El Salvador and immigrated legally by plane at age 25. Her parents were able to apply for a green card before she traveled to the United States and her green card was granted.

The main reason for her migration was the fact that there was a civil war going on in El Salvador. She knew no one and basically had to start from scratch. Luckily, after about two years, her sister arrived in San Francisco and they were able to help each other out.

Growing up in an immigrant family makes me feel fortunate that I had the opportunities to experience different cultures. It also meant that my family was different in a sense that we ate different meals than most of my friends: While they were eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch, me and my brother were eating tortillas with beans.

It also made me want to work harder knowing that my parents went through a hard time coming to the United States for them and their kids to have a better future. They did their part, so now it’s my turn to do my part.

Maximilian Tiao, photographed at Lowell High School in San Francisco on March 6, 2017. He is a member of Lowell's track and field team; his parents immigrated from South Korea.
Maximilian Tiao, photographed at Lowell High School in San Francisco on March 6, 2017. He is a member of Lowell's track and field team. His parents emigrated from South Korea. (Bert Johnson/KQED)

Maximilian Tiao, child of immigrants, San Francisco
My parents immigrated by plane from South Korea.

Both my grandparents (who are originally from China) and my parents didn't receive such a high education. They didn't have such a high income so, when my parents came to the United States, they really emphasized the fact. They're like: "Oh, our next generation has to take care of themselves and be able to establish an education — for even their next generation as well."

They came to San Francisco particularly because they knew that, besides being close to South Korea, this place has innovation. This new place gave them an awesome opportunity to be able to do jobs.

I believe that Trump's new executive actions will probably not affect my family since they’re all naturalized as U.S. citizens.

But anything can happen, especially with one of Trump's executive orders halting funding of sanctuary cities like San Francisco (Editor’s note: San Francisco and Santa Clara counties have filed lawsuits challenging any possible reductions in funding). I don't believe that this will affect my family specifically, but it can affect those around — especially my friends at Lowell.

Roberto Burgos' family emigrated from Panama.
Roberto Burgos' family emigrated from Panama. (Courtesy of Roberto Burgos)

Roberto Burgos, naturalized U.S. citizen, Oakland
My mother was one of many Panamanians working for USAID in Panama. During the height of Manual Noriega's dictatorship, the U.S. granted visas to some Panamanian employees, my mother being one. She already had a sister living in San Francisco, so, after much preparations, and as the country's safety deteriorated, we flew in on December 1988.

How do you think Trump's new executive actions/orders could impact your family?
I don't know, and that is a problem. I feel that me and my family are pretty much established in the U.S., and that, as of today, the actions Trump has taken will not affect us directly, I feel uncertain about actions he may take in the future that could. I have a nagging feeling that it is very possible.

Enrique Diaz, Gilroy.
Enrique Diaz, Gilroy. (Courtesy of Enrique Diaz)

Enrique Diaz, naturalized U.S. citizen, Gilroy
How did your family enter the U.S.?
Illegally initially -> green card -> citizenship -> 4 siblings with 4 year university degrees!

How do you think Trump's new executive actions/orders could impact your family?
Fear/anxiety/uncertainty among those undocumented and not appreciated for those that are now documented.

 

Elizabeth Parrott, Lafayette.
Elizabeth Parrott, Lafayette. (Courtesy of Elizabeth Parrott)

Elizabeth Parrott, child of immigrants, Lafayette
How did your family enter the U.S.?
My mother was an au pair for a family in Southern California, and my dad just came over on a work visa.
How do you think Trump's new executive actions/orders could impact your family?
While my parents have become citizens, and my sisters and I were all born here, I believe the executive actions will lead to profiling (similar to what occurred in Arizona), of all Latinos and people who simply look Mexican. I believe that this type of profiling is a fundamental violation of my rights as a citizen.

Angelica Salceda, Firebaugh
Angelica Salceda with her niece, Sophia Marie Salceda, in Chowchilla. (Courtesy of Angelica Salceda)

Angelica Salceda, child of immigrants, Firebaugh (Fresno County)
My mom came on a travel visa in the 1980s and extended her stay. She later become a LPR (lawful permanent resident). But many other family members came here undocumented and continue to lack status.

How do you think Trump's new executive actions/orders could impact your family?
For undocumented and LPR family members, I fear that any encounter with law enforcement may result in grave immigration consequences.

The interviews were edited for clarity and length. Sasha Khokha, Ryan Levi, Vanessa Rancano and Julie Small contributed to this report.

*This story has been corrected to reflect the number of green cards is 140,000, not 150,000 as previously reported.

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