Jocelyn, a 17-year-old daughter of Mexican immigrants who settled in Billings 14 years ago, says she doesn’t like to think about the risk of deportation she and her family faces.
She is in the country legally, at least for the time being, but her parents, Sandra and Manuel, could be deported at any time.
“I try not to think about it,” Jocelyn said Wednesday, adding that her loved ones help her deal with the challenges she and her family face. “They know what’s going on, and it’s just a weight off my shoulders when I’m around them.”
Jocelyn, whose last name is being withheld to protect her family members’ identities, is among the young immigrants featured in “The Dream is Now,” a 30-minute documentary about challenges faced by young undocumented immigrants and their families.
She spoke about her family’s difficulties at a screening of the film Wednesday night by the Montana Organizing Project at the Unitarian Universalist Church at 2032 Central Ave. Academy-award winner Davis Guggenheim, known for “Waiting for ‘Superman’” and “An Inconvenient Truth,” directed the film.
Jocelyn, a student at Billings Senior High School, said she is in the U.S. as a temporary legal resident, but only for two years, after which she could face deportation if immigration reform isn’t enacted. Her parents came to the U.S. legally, but their visas have expired.
When the topic of immigration comes up at school, Jocelyn said students often repeat the negative things they hear their parents say on the topic.
But, she explained, she and her family are simply here to build better lives for themselves.
Her father is a carpenter, and her mother cleans houses.
Jocelyn runs cross country and track, which she said she hopes will help get her into a competitive school where she can pursue a medical degree.
“We’re not criminals,” she said.
“Clearly her family is a part of the community. This has always been the only home she knows,” said Amy Aguirre, a local immigration reform activist who volunteers with the Montana Organizing Project and the Montana Small Business Alliance. “We just want to educate our community. We want them to know people are affected by a broken immigration system here in Billings, here today.”
Jocelyn said she hopes immigration reform giving undocumented immigrants a more straightforward path to citizenship is passed by Congress.
“If that doesn’t pass, I kind of feel hopeless,” she said. “I just don’t know what I would do.”