At three years old, Ana Mercado immigrated with her family to the United States from Mexico.
Now a sophomore majoring in contemporary Latino and Latin American studies and sociology, Mercado has been unable to return to her home country because of her undocumented, or DREAMer, status.
As the first in her family to attend a university, she is hoping to pave the way for her four younger siblings. This year’s executive orders affecting deportations and ICE raids, however, left Mercado feeling anxious.
“We’re not only battling with the day-to-day college life, but we’re also dealing with other stressors like how our status affects us,” Mercado said. “It’s extremely stressful. You have deadlines to meet for school, but then you’re also trying to figure out the application process. It’s crazy.”
One organization on campus has helped ease some of those tensions and make Mercado feel as though she isn’t alone.
The Legal Advice Project, a new initiative by the USC Gould School of Law Immigration Clinic, is a provost-funded project which provides free legal consultations and referrals to members of the student body, faculty and staff who are seeking naturalization, want to know their rights or are either at risk of deportation or have family members at risk.
The Legal Advice Project has given Mercado free assistance in renewing her visa.
She explained how drastically the project has helped her through her first time undergoing the documentation process.
“The process was super fast, the staff is just so helpful,” Mercado said. “Throughout the whole process, they were there, they were helping me out. There was just a lot of uncertainty, so I didn’t know who to go to and who actually to trust, but knowing that they were walking with me through that process was extremely helpful.”
Jean Reisz, an Audrey Irmas Clinical Teaching Fellow and member of the Legal Advice Project team, said that this guidance and presentation of credible…