Brendan O’Shaughnessy | February 9, 2017
Last year, Maria Munoz Robles and her twin sister, Brizzia, shared their story as undocumented students as a way to show the Notre Dame community that immigrants no longer needed to be afraid to embrace their identity.
The November presidential election of Donald Trump has reversed that optimism.
Maria, who along with her twin was co-valedictorian of their Nevada high school, said the wave of anti-immigrant sentiment that helped Trump win has stirred up visceral fears: for her family, for her safety, for her continued education as part of the Notre Dame family.
“I know there’s a lot of hatred for us and for immigrants,” Maria said in late November. “But I was devastated to learn that good friends voted for Trump.”
During the campaign, Trump promised to immediately rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive order that temporarily allows more than 700,000 undocumented people like her and her sister — who were brought to the United States as children — to work and study here. Without DACA status, the twins and dozens of other Notre Dame students who agreed to give their family and personal information to the government are at a real risk of deportation.
And when some Notre Dame students mocked a protest rally for undocumented students in front of the Dome, Maria said it felt like a family betrayal on top of the electoral rejection of the U.S. public. With effort, she tried to rationalize the personal feelings of hurt.
“It seems that a lot of people don’t want undocumented people to succeed because it’s seen as taking away from them,” the sophomore said. “I know we’re a scapegoat for anything bad that happens in the economy.”