Alejandrina Guzman

Photo Credit: Evelyn Moreno | Daily Texan Staff

Middle eastern studies senior Markfirah Krueng grew up just like every other American kid — or so she thought.

Krueng said she only recently realized her experience differs from that of others because she is an immigrant from Aceh, Indonesia.

“I grew up watching Disney Channel and Nickelodeon and doing typical American kid things,” Krueng said. “But (there were) things that were (a) part of my childhood that my friends didn’t grow up doing.”

Krueng was one of three student speakers who discussed immigrant experiences at “Faces of Immigration,” an event hosted by the Students for Equity and Diversity on Thursday evening.

Student body president Alejandrina Guzman helped host the event and shared her story with about 100 attendees. Guzman’s parents were undocumented immigrants from Mexico, which Guzman said gave her family disadvantages when she was born.

“I was not alive, I was not breathing for nine and a half minutes, and my parents didn’t know English,” Guzman said. “Coming from a Latinx culture, (it) is already difficult to … have a first child in a nation that you don’t even call home. It’s also me being differently abled. … My parents were discriminated on so many different levels.”

Neuroscience sophomore Karoleena Krypel said her family was privileged compared to other immigrant groups because her family is from Poland.

“Nobody looks at you and says that you don’t belong here and you’re clearly an immigrant,” Krypel said. “But it does upset me because … (my acquaintances were) talking about how bad immigrants are for the United States and I said, ‘My family’s immigrants. We’re from Poland.’”

Zaira Garcia, an advocate from FWD.us, a bipartisan non-profit that fights for immigration reform, said she thinks U.S. immigration is inherently flawed because of its documentation process.

“My parents, if they were to want to become legal, they are required to go back to their home country for at least 10 years before they can begin the process,” Garcia said. “And that has not changed.”

Everyone needs to act for immigration reform, especially to defend recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Garcia said.

“Your voice really matters,” Garcia said. “In this moment, we have 800,000 Dreamers who are being affected by this and only have a short amount of time before they are facing the possibility of losing their employment that they have worked really hard to obtain, or being deported to a country they don’t even know.”