Laura Enriquez, left, a graduate student at UCLA, and her illegal immigrant boyfriend, Miguel, who declined to show their faces, pose for photos at UCLA in Los Angeles, Friday, Jan. Dating and friendships pose unique challenges to the generationof illegal immigrant college students who made national headlines over the last year in their failed fight for a bill to give them a path to citizenship. more Laura Enriquez wanted her boyfriend to get a taste of her Alaska vacation last summer, so she walked on glaciers in a pair of his shoes and held up his photo when taking snapshots of the scenery.less Laura Enriquez, left, a graduate student at UCLA, and her illegal immigrant boyfriend, Miguel, who declined to show their faces, pose for photos at UCLA in Los Angeles, Friday, Jan. It was the best the 24-year-old graduate student could do because her boyfriend, who was brought here from Mexico by his parents as a child, is an illegal immigrant and can't risk traveling anywhere identification is required.
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The students are also viewed with suspicion by the families of their U. boyfriends and girlfriends who think they're after a green card.
"That's like the biggest elephant in the room," said Erick Huerta, a 26-year-old college student from Los Angeles.
For the past two years, the couple have navigated some of life's rites of passage with this in mind.
She does the driving and often pays because even with a college degree it's hard for him to find work.
Those who arrived as small children are now teenagers or in their mid-20s. It's especially likely for those students and people in their 20s who were brought here as toddlers and grew up on American cartoons, speak flawless English and have American friends.
Many never knew they were illegal immigrants until they learned at age 16, unlike their peers, they couldn't get a driver's license. They grow up watching Barney and the Power Rangers. They do all these things American kids are doing," said Roberto Gonzales, a sociology professor at the University of Washington.
And while getting an education and a job top their worries, students say they also struggle to have a normal social life.
Dating isn't easy, especially for young men who can't drive and often don't have cash to pay for a date since they can't get a steady job.
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