Lack of citizenship has not dimmed the ambitions and success of a Highland Park student

Luis Antezana/Cal State L.A.

Luis Antezana set himself apart from other students at Franklin High School by serving on the Highland Park neighborhood council.  Now, as  a senior at Cal State L.A., the political science major continues to be a stand-out. Last month, Antezana, was one of 23 students from across the Cal State system that were honored with a  CSU Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement  and a $6,000 scholarship.  But it was only a few years ago that Antezana’s accomplishments would have seemed unlikely after the Bolivian native discovered that he was an undocumented student, leaving him unable to receive financial aid.

Instead of dropping out, however,  Antezana plans to apply to law school, become an immigration lawyer, and then perhaps pursue a career in politics. “I learned that if I need something that is important, then I need to put a lot into the effort,” said Antezana in a press release issued by Cal State L.A.  The school provided more details about Antezana’s story:

Originally from Cochabamba, Bolivia, Antezana migrated to the United States with his family when he was seven. Moving to Highland Park, his parents worked hard to support the family and encouraged Antezana to do well in school.

Antezana, who was ready to go to college after high school, remembers the sorrow after learning that he had no means to pay for college. “I was told ‘no social security card, no aid’,” he noted, adding that his parents couldn’t afford to pay for his college.

 However, he applied for the Erika Glazer Family Scholarship and was fortunate to be selected.

At Cal State L.A., Antezana has been active in student government and also been working to improve the process through which undocumented students can receive financial aid and make more classes available for students.

“One day, I will run for a seat on the Los Angeles City Council—and who knows—possibly the mayor’s office,” Antezana said. “I believe as the mayor I could have the most impact in helping the residents of Los Angeles and beyond.”


  1. Is he planning on becoming legal?

  2. I am compassionate to his current situation but 15 years is a long time to not get your legal status in order.
    Sure, his parents worked hard but they apparently did not have there priorities adequately positioned.

    Without, knowing the intimate details , I will assume that there are extraordinary circumstances that prevented them from obtaining legal status.

    • Fifteen years is a long time to get one’s immigration status in order. But there are those families who have no relatives to rely on. Sometimes, if you’re not earning much as a parent, and you have no one to guide you through the immigration process, how do you know what your priorities are? If you have children, your focus would most likely be to make sure you get by and provide them with what you know they need.

      I’m not sure if this was the case with Luis’ parents, but I know of some parents who do not know what to do regarding immigration. They came to the United States not to deal with paperwork, but to make sure their children have choices – choices to be in an environment where you won’t be forced to be in gangs, to be in an environment where you shouldn’t worry about getting raped, and the choice to pursue the American dream of upward mobility.

      They did have their priorities adequately positioned – to what they know. If the USA really wants to reform immigration, there ought to be outreach programs that would help people understand the process of immigration in an affordable, understandable, and easily accessible way where you wouldn’t have to visit a lawyer’s office or wait in a line for 6 hours just for information from someone who only cares about getting the line moving.

  3. I hope he gets legalized and then we can all be proud of our new citizen. Unfortunately, I feel like what a lot of people want is to just scrap the immigration laws. I keep reading these sob stories about illegal immigrants and the subtext is that if you feel it’s wrong to be in this country illegally, then you are a RACIST.

    Citizens like Luis are we need – smart, driven people who will contribute to our society in a positive way. I am all for easing his burden to citizenship, especially given that it’s his parents fault. On the other hand, I work with plenty of Asian immigrants who all had to wait in line and enter legally. Why should we lower the bar for Latinos? A crime was committed and it needs to be corrected. I’m assuming the fact that correcting his legal status was not mentioned is just an oversight. I don’t understand how one could want to be a lawyer in this country and not comply with the basic laws of the land.

    • It’s not racist to be upset there are people breaking the law and in turn, hurting others. As someone I work with put it, who came here legally, she is would be pissed if her own family came here illegally and people like her son were not able to get a job because of it. There are only so many resources. The key word is ILLEGAL. Dropping the racism card doesn’t make you sound progressive..

  4. An East Side Native (Female)

    I happen to know the family quite personally and they came here in spring of 2000, LEGALLY, with Visas, on two AIRPLANES. Yeah. The article failed to mention that part though huh? Yeah. Shame on you all for assuming you know the WHOLE story. And shame on the East Sider for not doing your fact checking and research correctly.

    • The story never said anything about the family’s immigration status. All the information in the story was provided by Cal State L.A., which identified Antezana as an undocumented student.

    • I didn’t assume anything – that’s why I asked for clarification. Now that you’ve cleared it up, I’m a lot less sympathetic. He’s not eligible for aid because he isn’t a citizen… and what is the problem with that exactly? I fail to see where we should weep and rend our garments over this huge ‘injustice’.

  5. An East Side Native (Female)

    I’m sure No one want’s any of your “sympathy” or weeping, please.. I’m sure the story was trying to convey what one young man has had to overcome in his academic journey. Every one has a struggle. Well almost every one, except people like you? Yeah, never you mind though, there’s no point in corresponding further with someone who’s obviously firm in their own “beliefs”

  6. Highland Park Pont of View

    As a student just a year below Luis, an alum from Franklin High School, and having being undocumented a few years ago, I am saddened to be reading all these comments below me.

    To those who are asking Luis, “why hasn’t he become legal yet?” I’m assuming you do not know the arduous process that is required by the U.S. to become legal. It takes years, usually 10+, to become a resident and then you must wait even more time to become a citizen. And this, getting your residency, can only be possible if you are lucky enough to have a family member who is already legal in the United States. If you have not gone throughout this process, then you have no idea how hard the struggle is. Please do not bring up racism (it has nothing to do with this topic, please research your facts) or how he has yet to get his legal status organized — how about you donate to organizations or funds who are helping immigrant students instead?

    I currently attend an Ivy League university on a full-ride scholarship and this is thanks to the fact that I am a resident. I became legal a few years ago because I had a family member here. If it wasn’t for my residency, I would not have been able to receive this scholarship. I am hoping that there will be more support for immigrant students, because if it had not been for that one person, I would not be receiving $60,000+ each year education at my university. Let me not even get into the story of how hard it was to even get residency, that is for another time….

  7. Good Job Luis! Luis is an amazing individual. Please, get to know him, he’s someone you definitely want to meet. I hope the Immigration Reform passes, it will help current and future Dreamers reach their dreams.
    Luis and other students have contributed to this country in many ways and deserve to continue their education without financial barriers. We need to all be progressive individuals, let’s all support immigration reform now! Luis keep up the good work and keep fighting!

Post a Comment

Please keep your comments civil and on topic and refrain from personal attacks. The moderator reserves the right to edit or delete any comments. The Eastsider's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy apply to comments submitted by readers. Required fields are marked *