When the Capitol Hill Times first interviewed Seattle University Student Government president Carlos Rodriguez on Jan. 18, he had made his status as an undocumented student public in a statement on the 2016 Elections three months before.
Inauguration Day was approaching and Rodriguez, who was born in Mexico but has lived in the U.S. since he was 3 years old, was feeling anxious about his future.
When CHT followed up with Rodriguez on Friday, Jan. 27, he was exhausted, scared and depressed.
The future was full of uncertainty before Jan. 20, but now it has become a nightmare for him, after President Donald Trump signed an executive order targeting undocumented immigrants Jan. 25.
The terrifying prospect of deportation is now a serious concern for the SU student and the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
“In terms of my mental health, I’m worried,” Rodriguez said. “I can’t sleep anymore. I stay up all night. I have terrible nightmares. I wake up in the middle of my sleep screaming for no reason. As a result, I felt a lot more fear, and everything is becoming more realistic regarding what I have to do to protect myself, my family and other people who are undocumented.”
Rodriguez decided to quit his job as building monitor for SU’s public safety department Thursday, and will resign from his administrative internship with the King County Prosecutor’s Office next week.
He has also been thinking about stepping down from his position as student government president these days (Note: Rodriguez announced his resignation on Monday, Jan. 30).
“I want to take better care of my health and dedicate myself to helping other people in my community,” Rodriguez said.
Trump has claimed that Mexico only sends the worst people to the U.S. Rodriguez has two jobs, a full course load and a position in student government.
The SU senior said he was immediately upset when he saw the news about Trump’s executive orders Wednesday morning. But he was participating in a fundraising event for Seattle Children’s Hospital, so he decided to avoid seeing any more news and continue with his daily activities.
The day after was when all the consequences affecting him and his family hit, he said.
“I didn’t want to talk about it; I didn’t want to think about it on Wednesday. I was upset by all the executive orders, and I saw the orders on immigration as a personal attack,” Rodriguez said. “And then [on Thursday,] I said to myself, ‘This is real. This is real, and is going to impact me and my family. Now I have to figure out what I’m going to do.’”
As a member of a Jesuit university, Rodriguez spends time reflecting on the role of religion and Christianity in terms of the current state of the country.
“I was watching a video by Jesuit priest James Martin, and he was talking about Christianity, being a good Christian and how we should accept immigrants and refugees because that’s in the Bible,” Rodriguez said. “And he was talking about how un-Christian from us to not accept people looking for safety. I like to think about that in a worldwide context and in the United States.”
Rodriguez and other undocumented immigrants are not alone.
Mayor Ed Murray responded to Trump’s enforcement executive orders Jan. 25 during a press conference held outside City Hall. His message: As a sanctuary city, Seattle is ready to fight back.
“I want to assure Seattle residents that while they are right to be alarmed about President Trump’s divisive vision, they should not be concerned that this city will be bullied into stepping away from its commitments and values,” Murray said. “The city of Seattle will continue to protect the rights guaranteed to the city and its people by the United States Constitution and will challenge any unconstitutional policies that threaten the security of our communities.”
Seattle University is also willing to step up and protect its population of undocumented students.
“It’s important to enhance our general awareness of issues experienced by undocumented students,” Seattle University Office of Multicultural Affairs director Czarina Ramsey wrote in an email. “With limited information on what may occur in a Trump administration, we have worked actively to ensure that our students feel supported and understand available resources. The information included on the FAQ section of the OMA website was authored in a way to address the immediate concerns. It is also important for undocumented students, particularly those with DACA status, to be familiar with their rights and seek support from legal counsel.”