“They said I passed out. I couldn’t swallow a piece of orange or water…They said that they almost left me, but I was walking again…I don’t know how.” Luis Luna related this story of the time he spent crossing the Arizona desert into America without enough food and water to an audience of Hollywood High students in SAS History teacher Michael Ulmer’s class on Jan 30.
Luis Luna, decked out in a blue hoodie, gray collared shirt and a blue and gray cap to match is an illegal immigrant who risked his lifestyle in America to talk to Ulmer’s class about the difficulties of living in the U.S. without documentation and about the programs available to help anyone who should find themselves at risk of deportation and other issues regarding immigration status because, “…if someone came and talked to me about it, I could have done something about it and not get deported…”.
He discussed with the class how he had his own part time job, apartment, and was even part of the basketball team in his old high school. His story about his struggle to come back began after he was arrested for driving with a “busted tail light”. Luna was deported after officers found out that he had no documentation during his stay in jail.
Luna’s story spanned across long periods of harsh living in Mexico and several months’ worth of jail time after his failed attempts at returning home to America. “In total I’ve done eight or nine months in jail.”
In Mexico, he spent a lot of his time homeless and endangered by murderers, thieves, and even by mafias. “I saw people shot, beheaded…Some of them[mafias] tried to kill me…Some of them offered me a home, food, and money…I almost gave in…Up to this day my mom doesn’t know what I’ve been through over there…”
His experiences were difficult and instilled in Luna the desire to avoid seeing other people experience the things he endured, “When I was sleeping in the streets…I was in the cemetery and someone got stabbed in the middle of the night. You can’t trust no one. Even the cops stole from me sometimes. I don’t want other people to go through what I went through.”
The talk ended in a series of questions and answers after Luna supplied on the whiteboard the names of several good organizations designed to help with undocumented adolescents and even his personal cell phone number to those students who might have felt the need to reach out to him for guidance. Ulmer’s class responded with noticeable appreciation and applause.
Luna plans to finish his education with a high school degree and bachelor’s degree as well in the hopes of landing, “accounting work in an office for like a big company…”