Escuela, Política

A Closer Look: UCLA’s Underground Students

Remember those undocumented college students I’ve mentioned time and time again? Well, there’s more stories, four to be exact, and two touching photos essays.

The Daily Bruin’s series on AB 540 students profiles four students, all in slightly different situations. Three of the students are current undergrads. Ernesto sent out an email and texts to his friends just to be able to pay for the $2,600 or so it costs to attend UCLA for winter quarter. Victor’s father was picked up by ICE officials at his home and later deported to Peru after 17 years in the states. He considered leaving UCLA to spend more time running the family gardening business. Stephanie has been in school six years, she attends when she has the money to pay and skips a quarter when she can’t afford the cost. Mariana received her green card less than a year ago and is now a graduate student at Harvard. She’s part of an effort to get legislation passed in Massachusetts similar to California’s AB 540, which allows undocumented students who have graduated from a California high school to pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities.

Oh yeah, and if you’re more of a visual person, you should also check out the photo essays: part one, part two.


Bad Luck Chunk

Monday, February 18
Hacienda Heights

I was cleaning in the kitchen when I noticed the time.

7:15 pm.

Adrian should be getting home any time soon now, I thought to myself.

30 seconds later, he walked through the front door. VR, our dog, ran to greet him.

He looked dejected, sad and not as relaxed as I’d expect him to look after visiting his physical therapist.

“You want to see the truck?” he asked me and my mom.

“What happened to Donkey?” I asked. (Yes, Adrian named his Ford Ranger Donkey.)

“He got hit,” he said in that tone that he only uses at rare times, like the time he woke me up and told me Grandpa Bartolo had passed away.

“What?” I asked incredulously. My mom didn’t say anything. She must have already heard the news.

Adrian led us out the driveway where we inspected the damage on Donkey. The driver’s was banged up pretty bad between the door and the back tires.

“The door won’t open,” he told me.

I started asking questions. How? Where? Huh? You can’t have such bad luck, can you?

Adrian explained, but I’m still confused about what happened. An employee at the physical therapy office was getting stuff out of her car, when it began to roll down a hill — I think the parking brake was off — and hit Adrian’s parked truck. Adrian was in the middle of a physical therapy session when he heard a large boom. He says that the woman’s car would have hit the office if the truck hadn’t obstructed it’s path.

Oh, and why is Adrian in physical therapy? Well, that’s because about three weeks ago, he and his girlfriend were in a car accident. They were hit from behind after merging on to the freeway. Her car was pretty banged up, they weren’t seriously hurt. However, both suffer back pain. Adrian’s on disability leave from work where he has to do a lot of heavy lifting. He’s also had to stop lifting weights. He tells me he watches a lot of TV and plays a lot of video games. Being a bum doesn’t suit the kid, but he has no choice.

Poor kid.

I think Adrian’s current bad luck streak might be worse than the time I survived being bug bombed by my roommate and almost slipping on a burrito (true story). At least he hasn’t had any dental or ear incidents this time around.

Well, I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

[A note on the title: Everyone in my house is known by about 4 or 5 different nicknames. I usually call my younger brother Chunk.]


Tienes que aprender a decirlos mal para que te entienden

From age 1 (or whenever I started speaking) to age 18 or so, I pronounced my hometown, Hacienda Heights, with a hard H. I like alliteration, and HH fit. When I got to college, I met people who put the accent on Pérez and wouldn’t stand for mispronunciation of their names. I also met friends who had no clue where I lived even though they grew up just 15 miles west.

“Wait, you mean Hacienda Heights?” they’d ask pronouncing hacienda in Spanish.

“Yeah,” I’d say, annoyed that I was being corrected.

“Where is it?” they’d ask, still confused.

“Northeast of Whittier, a bit east of El Monte [Al Montee] south of La Puente [I know the article for puente should be el, but the city planners felt like doing things their own way], 15 minutes west of Pomona,” I’d answer, trying to situate my little unincorporated section of Los Angeles County.

My new friends would look at my blankly, still confused. It didn’t matter if I pronounced the H or not, no one knew where it was at.

Since then, I’ve ditched the alliterative pronunciation except for when I’m around white people or others I doubt understand Spanish. It’s just easier that way.

I guess.

Hat tip: Oso


Puro Pedo Magazine February ’08 Issue

On the Puro Pedo Magazine masthead, i’m listed as a writer. That’s a lie. For most of the nine issues of the magazines, I’ve left the writing to funnier people on the staff. I usually just help run our mailing list and blog. (Oh yeah, if you want to subscribe, you can send an email to

This issue is different. I actually wrote something. To download the pdf of the February issue, click the cover image above or click here.

In this issue:

  • Aztlan’s Next Top Chola
  • Why Pochos Love the Raiders
  • Activist Caught at Wal*Mart While Drinking Coke
  • Search for Carmen San Diego Ends in Guantanamo
  • Special Valentine’s Day Cards by Rio Yañez
  • Puro Pedro: 20 questions with Efren Ramirez
  • Great Moments in Chican@ History: The MEChA Meeting that Started on Time
  • 10 Tips to Help Barack Obama get the Elusive Latino Vote
  • Indigenous Group Sues Disney for Copyright Infringement
  • Writers Strike Ends, Comedian Relieved
  • Lonely Hearts advertisement
  • Mariachi Road Crew by Jerry Gonzalez

If you like it, let me know. If you don’t, let me know too. I don’t mind criticism.