SFSU Graduation “Bittersweet” for Students with Deported Parents

Latino studies students from San Francisco State University held their class graduation Friday, but it was a bittersweet moment for some accepting their college degree.

Some of the students' parents were not in attendance to see the proud moment because they have been deported.

Angel Barragan was one of those graduating students. His father, an undocumented immigrant, was deported during Barragan's freshman year and is unable to return.

The 22-year-old graduate said his family lost their home and was forced to move into a tiny room at his uncle's house when his father was deported.

Barragan said he talks to his father three or four times a year. He called it a loss to have his father miss his special moment.

"One of the most important (people) in my life is not going to be here with me when I'm doing this big accomplishment," he said.

Barragan shared his story at a press conference prior to Thursday's graduation -- part of a campaign by immigration rights activists to highlight the emotional cost of deportations.

Barragan and 66 other Latino studies grads will join the rest of the university's Class of 2014 on Saturday for a much larger graduation at Cox Stadium on the San Francisco State campus.

Of the 67 students who accepted their diplomas on Friday, just a handful had family members who have been deported.

Of those few, only Barragan was willing to talk publicly. The others don’t want to be identified as undocumented.  Like millions of undocumented migrants, they keep that secret, believing it keeps them safer. 

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