For a long time, Enrique Loyola’s story was a secret. Four years ago his parents filed for residency in immigration court.
He’s graduating from high school.
Loyola says even amid the tensions of immigration reform talks, he wants the world to know when the laws work.
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"Four years ago there was a point that my parents were actually going to be deported to Mexico," Loyola said.
Loyola's parents came from Mexico some 20 years ago.
But even though he and his sister were born in Los Angeles, one decision could have uprooted everything.
“The case wasn't strong enough to persuade the judge that we were worthy to be in the United States," he said.
His parents had no criminal record, but no real case to prove why they belonged either: and by law the federal judge held the sole discretion on how to proceed. Then Loyola got his acceptance letter to Loyola High School.
"He told me that he cannot waste my opportunity to attend a prestigious school and potentially go to a U.S. college,” He said. And he said, ‘Therefore, I'm granting your parents U.S. residency. Welcome to the United States.’"
It would forever change him.
"He told me that he expects me to do big things," he said.
On Aug. 21, Loyola will begin a full-ride scholarship to Wake Forest University in North Carolina. He's determined to get his master’s degree in business administration.
"What's impressed me most about enrique is his resilience," said school counselor Kelly Farland.
Loyola faculty say Loyola’s enthusiasm is contagious. Underclassmen are drawn to him.
“They're game is raised by being around people like Enrique because he brings out the best in people just by his efforts," said Paul Jordan, Loyola High School’s assistant principal.
So is the staff.
"I won't soon forget Enrique Loyola and how he's grown and the lessons he's taught me," Farland said.
They say Loyola sets the example of success.
"Education is basically the only way of opening doors to success," he said. "I see it as a privilege. And in my case, I took advantage of that."