Midfielder Miguel Aguilar, who failed to make the Galaxy roster during a preseason trial this winter, signed with the MLS club's USL affiliate Friday.
Aguilar, taken by D.C. United in the first round of the 2015 MLS SuperDraft, played in 25 MLS games over two seasons before the Galaxy acquired his rights in December. But a month later, the team signed Romain Alessandrini, Joao Pedro and Jermaine Jones, crowding the midfield and leaving little room for Aguilar on the first-team roster.
Aguilar, 23, was brought to this country from Mexico by his mother when he was 11. The family then overstayed their visas, making them undocumented immigrants – and eventually making Aguilar the first undocumented immigrant to play in MLS.
He is also among the more than 861,000 immigrants who received protection from deportation under President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an executive order that provides work permits for people brought to the U.S. as children, provided they meet certain conditions.
But under the Trump administration, the government has begun deportation proceedings against some DACA recipients and that has left Aguilar fearful about his own situation.
"He's targeting people like myself," Aguilar said. "I think that's grounds to be concerned."
Aguilar married his college sweetheart, Erin Ah Choy, last spring and applied for a green card, which he sees as the first step toward citizenship and a family.
"It's become part of life," Aguilar said of his uncertain status. "I'm doing everything right. I stay out of trouble. I always kind of go by that saying that good things happen to good people.
"I always try to stay positive and just have the best outlook on life and know if I'm doing things right I have nothing to be afraid of."
When the Galaxy declined to put Aguilar on the first-team roster for last weekend's season opener, he became a free agent, able to sign with any team. But he said he valued the stability and prestige of the Galaxy and wanted to sign with Galaxy II in USL, where he believed he would be given a chance work his way back to the MLS team.
"Growing up in California, everybody talks about the Galaxy as probably the biggest organization in this side of the world," said Aguilar, who attended high school in Sacramento and college at the University of San Francisco. "If there's an opportunity there and there's upward mobility – which there is; a lot of the guys that played for the II are now playing on the first team – I considered that a good opportunity."