Meet Michigan's divided: Wilfredo Diaz

Wilfredo Diaz

Wilfredo Diaz (Photo by Brian Widdis)

Vital stats

Name: Wilfredo Diaz
Age: 22
Place: Wyoming, Mich.
Job: Restaurant supply salesman
Income: $33,000
Voted for: As a noncitizen, he could not vote.
Fears for 2017: That he and his family could be deported.

WYOMING — Wilfredo Diaz bought a house in suburban Grand Rapids a few months ago after landing a modest job. He dreamed of playing big-league soccer and becoming a citizen in the country he’s called home for most of his 22 years. All of that could disappear, he fears, with Donald Trump as president.

Diaz is among more than 700,000 American Dreamers brought here as children by undocumented parents. In 2012 President Obama granted them a reprieve from deportation by signing an executive order. Trump has vowed to overturn the order.

“My future right now is in the hands of Trump,” Diaz said. “You go back to being scared. You’re always looking over your shoulder, wondering who’s coming for you.”

He spent his first nine years in Guatemala, in a mud-brick house with a dirt floor. The toilet was a hole in the ground, they carried water from a nearby river, and sustenance came from the soil. When he was 5, his mother entered the United States illegally. When he was 9, she sent for him and his kid brother. In Grand Rapids, he enrolled in school, but remained in the shadows until Obama took action, which allowed him to obtain a work permit, begin paying taxes and feel more like an American. Now, he worries that he, his mother and brother will be sent back. And what about his younger sister, a U.S. citizen who was born here? He wants to stay, he said, marry his girlfriend and become a citizen.

America, he said, is “a country where there’s a lot of opportunity to do a lot of good things economically. If you work hard enough, you can accomplish almost anything you want. Make America Great Again? How can you make America great again if it’s already great?”

Facts matter. Trust matters. Journalism matters.

If you learned something from the story you're reading please consider supporting our work. Your donation allows us to keep our Michigan-focused reporting and analysis free and accessible to all. All donations are voluntary, but for as little as $1 you can become a member of Bridge Club and support freedom of the press in Michigan during a crucial election year.

Pay with VISA Pay with MasterCard Pay with American Express Donate now

Comment Form

Add new comment

Dear Reader: We value your thoughts and criticism on the articles, but insist on civility. Criticizing comments or ideas is welcome, but Bridge won’t tolerate comments that are false or defamatory or that demean, personally attack, spread hate or harmful stereotypes. Violating these standards could result in a ban.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.