It's election day at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill! Who's your pick for student body president? You have a 25 percent chance of being represented by Emilio Vicente, a homosexual from Guatemala who clambered into America through a barbed-wire fence when he was six.
Vicente appears to be a force of nature, with a splashy campaign website and a killer personal narrative wrapped around his family's status as undocumented workers at "a giant poultry processor" in Siler City, North Carolina. Today, he faces off against three opponents in the general election.
"People argue mostly with the fact that he's undocumented," a UNC campus conservative—who's politely declining to support Vicente—tells the TV network Fusion in the video above. For his part, though, Vicente says coming out gay was much harder than publicly acknowledging his immigration status.
"Everyone in my family is undocumented, except for my little sister, so it's easy for me to say I'm undocumented," he says. "It's harder for me to say I'm gay because… my family's a little bit conservative, and I don't think they fully understand what it means to be gay."
As historic as Vicente's candidacy is, he's probably a longshot to win the election. His platform is free-form and focused on inclusion. In the interview with Fusion, he targets a problem that hits him especially hard: the state's requirement that undocumented students pay out-of-state tuition, no matter how long they've resided in North Carolina. "My family cannot afford $40,000 a year in tuition," he says. "They don't even make that amount of money in a year."
The video includes interviews with a state legislator and some stark statistics on the plight of undocumented students nationwide, and their lack of access to higher education and better-paying jobs.
But Vicente's running for a campus office, not for Congress. And the school's newspaper, the Daily Tar Heel, has been lukewarm to his candidacy, criticizing a "lack of tangible policies" to match his "unquestionable determination."
"What Vicente has in leadership," the newspaper concluded, "he lacks in action."