Undocumented Student Body President Hopes to Be Paid

Cal State Long Beach's student body president is also undocumented.

The elected role is a paid position, but not for Jose Salazar because of his immigration status.

Salazar spends a lot of time at CSULB's Dream Center, a resource center for the undocumented.

He also spends a lot of time in his office at the college as student body president.

"Even if you have the most odds against you, if you work hard enough you can achieve whatever you want," Salazar said.

Salazar is the first undocumented student to be elected into the role. While he didn't need a social security number to run for office, he needs one now to get paid for his position.

"It's been quite a challenge," Salazar said.

Salazar's tuition is waived, perks that come with the president position.

His undocumented status prevents him from receiving a $1,200 a month fellowship payment.

He is urging the school to change the policy because he said his livelihood depends on it.

"Now that school started it's very hard for me to make any form of income because of this job and I have school," he said. "I'm not going to use it myself. I'm going to use it to help out my family."

Salazar came to the United States when he was 8 years old. He's petitioned for deferred status through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an immigration policy that allows certain undocumented immigrants who entered the country before their 16th birthday to receive a renewable two-year work permit and exemption from deportation. But it could be several months before he gets an answer.

The school, meanwhile, is reaching out to lawmakers, encouraging them to push Salazar's petition through.

"He is working very hard in making sure he's successful in that role," said Jane Conoley, the CSULB president. "We don't want anything to be a distraction. We want him to graduate. We want him to get everything he can out of the leadership role that he's in."

Salazar knows not everyone agrees he should be treated equally. His journey did not come without controversy.

He knows a policy change may not come until well after he has graduated, but he said this campaign is not just for him.

"If no one wants to have the courage to stand up for a community, we're not going to make any type of progress," he said.

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