Local

Fresno State student body president is undocumented immigrant

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The student body president at Fresno State has revealed a big secret with potentially life-changing consequences.

Pedro Ramirez now says he's not ashamed to admit -- he's an undocumented immigrant.

Ramirez says for past four years he's had to lie about his immigration status because he was afraid of what would happen to him. But now he says he doesn't have to be afraid anymore.

Pedro Ramirez undocumented status had been a secret to his classmates and teachers. But that all changed Tuesday when the Fresno State newspaper the Collegian published this article online.

"For me it's a big relief. I've been holding this in for the majority of my life since I found out in high school." said Ramirez.

Ramirez came to the United States from Mexico when he was three. He says he didn't find out about his illegal status until he applied for scholarships and military grants his senior year.

Having no social security card meant no federal funding. "So I just went through the college route. A lot of my counselors helped me out. They told me of the way that I can get into college without being a citizen." added Ramirez.

Ramirez is receiving his education through a state bill that allows him to pay in-state tuition.

When the political science major decided to run for office last spring he thought nothing of his undocumented status.

"There's no citizenship requirements to be a student officer. It's student government. I'm here to serve the students not the state of California or the federal government." said Ramirez.

But not everyone agrees.

Cole Rojewski also ran for president and lost to Ramirez.

"He misled the students he wasn't up front about it. And no one knew about it. So I think he should step down and have a re-election." said Rojewski.

Action News spoke to many students on campus who has just learned of the news. Their opinions were mixed.

"To me honestly it does not matter. I mean as long as he, whatever he's running for, if he does a good job at it then that is perfectly fine with me." said Christina Esquivel.

"I'm a legal immigrant. And I went through so much pain to immigrate to this country it's a very long process and it bothers me that people would just come in without doing it but I understand it can be difficult." said Isaac Martin.

Ramirez says he would have preferred to reveal his secret in a different way but fear kept him in hiding until now.

"When you lie or when you hold something back or you hold it in. It kind of blinds you and you don't know what to do. So coming out of the shadows and telling people what I am and what I've been through you know it's a big relief for me." said Ramirez.

Ramirez says he is also aware that there could be severe consequences to coming clean including the possibility of being deported. But for now, he's just focused on getting his degree in the spring.

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Tags:
immigration, california state university fresno, local, tommy tran
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