Laura Patricia Minero waas brought to the
United States as an undocumented immigrant
when she was five-years-old, thereby
qualifying her for the DACA Program.
The Academic Journey of
Laura Patricia Minero
Breaking Barriers
community. That really propelled me and helped take me out of my depression. I was in community with other people and I realized that I wasn’
t alone.”

Minero would go on to study at California State University – Fullerton. And it was this awakening as an undocumented student that led her to
her research career.

“I got involved in researching how effectively Cal State University – Fullerton served undocumented students,” Minero said. “That pretty much
also changed my career trajectory. That was led by one of my dear friends, Jacqueline Gonzalez. That was one of the few studies at the time. I
remember doing a literature search back in 2011 and there were maybe three articles out there on undocumented students and the
undocumented experience. We were really starting something at that time that no one was really looking into. That pretty much influenced my
career trajectory. I didn’t even know that people cared about that, that you could help that change through research.”

After attaining her master’s degree, Minero settled on UW-Madison as the next step in her academic career to attain a Ph.D. in psychology. And
even though she is excelling as a student — she won a Ford Foundation Fellowship in 2016 — she is still pushing against barriers as a DACA
student and still lives with a certain degree of apprehension and anxiety.

“We’re still wondering what is going to happen to those of us who have DACA,” Minero said. “We have seen that raids have continued to
occur across the nation. And we now know that Deferred Action individuals are not covered. There have been individuals with DACA who
have been detained and also deported. It’s been incredibly frustrating because it just feels like another way in which the system is unjust and
broken because we paid for that permit. It wasn’t just given to us. And you have to renew it every two years. You have to pass a federal
background check. You have to submit all of this information that indicates that you are good enough for this kind of protection. And then in
comes a president who says, ‘Well that doesn’t matter at all.’ It’s incredibly frustrating. For me, what happened after the presidential
inauguration was a lot of my fear increased. And having DACA, I still benefit from the privilege, being able to work at this institution and being
able to continue my doctoral studies. But I also feel like I am waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

Minero is also concerned about the wedge that is being driven down the middle of the Latino community.

“A lot of the anti-immigrant rhetoric ends up saying that we want the ‘good’ immigrant, which in many ways, I fit that persona,” Minero said.
“But what it actually does is pit the community against one another. And that’s the thing that I think people need to be careful about. It had
people let their guard down. ‘Okay, that’s not me. I’m not going to be deported.’ So what we see is a division that’s very tactful through this
lens, through this politics and it’s something that I have always been careful about.”

Yet in spite of the hostile political environment, Minero pushes on.

“I try to remain hopeful because that is all that we have,” Minero said. “If I lost hope a long time ago, I wouldn’t be where I am. I think this has
helped a lot of people open their eyes to something that many of us in our community has been living with day-to-day. I think it’s unfortunate,
the state of our nation. But I am hopeful that this helps people wake up and do something about it. My hope is that this pushes immigration
reform along the way that our community needs. How soon that will happen, I think we’re still about a decade away from that.”
Part 2 of 2

By Jonathan Gramling

Laura Patricia Minero is a personable Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Psychology at the
UW-Madison. Minero is also a DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) student whose
family entered the U.S. without documentation when Minero was five-years-old.

Throughout her life, she has had to live dual identities, one an everyday student in the
community where she lived and the other has an undocumented child living in constant fear
of being picked up and deported. She could reveal her true identity as a child to no one. And
this led to severe isolation where she felt that she was the only one in her school who was

“It wasn’t until I started getting involved with my community that I started to realize that it didn’
t make sense that my family would be the only one,” Minero said. “Maybe I was the only one I
knew in my town, but there had to be other people who were going through this. And when I
moved to southern California, that’s when I finally did meet other people who were going
through that. That’s one of the first instances where I also started getting involved in my
community. I realized that maybe other people weren’t undocumented, but they were facing
significant barriers in higher education, lacking access to different services in our