They say that if you want to make God laugh, then make plans.I had both plans and a vision for 2017.My plans included spending 2017 in Mexico to reconnect with my culture, to try to regain what I've lost in the two decades I have lived in the U.S, and to find the pieces of myself that I thought I could only find in my homeland. I was going to write an "Eat, Pray, Love" sort of second book, it was going to be equal parts memoir, history and culture. If I got lucky, maybe I'd even mend my broken heart and find find love, what would it even be like to date a Mexican in Mexico?!It was going to be called "From, From: ...." (The ... would be filled at the end of my journey).Then, in April, I walked into love with a man that I still cannot believe actually exists.A man that shares my values and culture (I had never dated a culturally Mexican man).Being Mexican with him is beautiful; we go eat tacos at the Piñata district after church on Sundays, not as a field trip, but as a way of life.There are a million things we never have to explain to each other.At the same time, there is so much we teach each other about Mexican culture and how diverse and dense, and rich it is ( he is from the north (del Norte) and I am from the south ( pa ya del D.F).Then I realized how much of Latino history in the U.S is hidden, how vital and integral we have been to this country and how little it is known or celebrated.We have so much material for Oscar-winning movies, best-selling books, critically acclaimed documentaries, so why are we not doing and achieving those things? We were there during every single historically important moment in U.S history, so why do not even Latinos know about it? And then, Donald Trump won the November election, and my plans were out the window.I certainly cannot leave the U.S now, not even for a year. Oh no, there is much work to be done, here and now.So my plans have all changed for 2017.But my vision, my vision was constructed with prayer, with deep reflection and truth.So while my methods had to be adapted, I am on a mission to reconnect, discover, and grow.2017, I am excited to receive you.
I have always been afraid of physical heights, but my spirit has always wanted to soar through the sky. I've wanted to go skydiving for many years but for one reason or another it had never happened. Finally, this weekend, I jumped out of a plane 18,000 feet above the ground. The free fall lasted 90 seconds. It was truly one of the most incredible experiences of my life, an indescribable feeling of dread, peace and freedom all at once. Once the parachute was opened, I felt like I was standing still, floating, in the sky. I don't often have a feeling of pure stillness, my mind is always thinking, planning, preparing, but for a few seconds, as I made my way back to the ground, my mind stood still. Being up in the clouds, being able to look at God's creation from the sky, a view I will never forget, was truly one of the most beautiful privileges of my life.
Life has once again shown me that everything happens when it's supposed to happen, not a minute before, not a minute after. I flew through the sky at the precise moment I was supposed to.
Always grateful, always in awe of the beauty and the force of nature. As we were going up, a fire was breaking out nearby. Many acres of land, and many homes have been lost to the fires in California. The sky was almost red in some places, the smoke penetrated my sense of smell. The fire, the height, the entire view put everything in perspective. The world is a much bigger, complex space than what happens in our lives every day, and yet, we still matter. Our lives matter, our dreams matter. I landed on the ground proud of myself for taking the leap despite my fear. I landed on the ground with a whole new perspective. I landed on the ground ready to soar to new heights this fall. I am three weeks away from another monumental day in my life- the release of my first book, My (Underground) American Dream. I am ready.Read More
Alton Sterling was murdered because in America we still consider a black man property and not a man. America has never gotten over the fact that slaves were freed. From the moment black men were declared free, America has devised schemes that keep them captive. America has schemed to destroy them, break them down, and kill them. Since America couldn’t kill their spirit, they have gone after their bodies.
Black Code laws, which were instituted to suppress the freedoms of black men, may not be legal anymore, but their use continues. Laws called apprenticeships, which basically enslaved black children, may not exist anymore, but black children still do not get the same education as other children. Sure, black men have the right to vote, but voting is still restricted. One in three black men can expect to go to prison in their lifetime.
Still, in America, in 2016, color and race determine much of our fate. Racism has never ceased to exist, it lay dormant for sometime, but it is back and in full force.
If we don’t stand up for Black Lives Matter today, right now, this second, there will be a time when we have to say that Latino Lives Matter, that Women Lives Matter.
Our constitution makes every woman and man, a human being. Unfortunately, America hasn’t gotten the message.Read More
As the rhetoric continues that somehow the Mexican government is instructing people to come to the U.S., that the Pope is doing the Mexican government's dirty work, I must share what I saw and heard from the Mexican people and local governments in Guerrero (my home state).
In January, the Guerrero government held a convening in Taxco, where state and local officials, and most importantly thousands of citizens gathered to discuss migration and what can be done to PREVENT it.
Stories were shared of once thriving communities turned into ghost towns. Towns where only children, women and the elderly live because all the men have gone north to seek work. The stories of children growing up without fathers, of fathers and mothers who take their last breath without ever seeing their sons again were many and each of them broke my heart.
The Mexican people do not want their sons and fathers to leave their homeland. On the contrary, they yearn for opportunities in their own land. They demand that the Mexican government does more to improve the economy so that they don't lose generations of men. As far as I could tell, the government officials who were there were listening and proposed several initiatives to keep more Mexicans in Mexico.
More than 50% of Guerrero's economy is made up of remittances-- money immigrants in the U.S.A send home. That is unacceptable. The road ahead for reversing migration patters is tough and long, but I am glad that solutions are being discussed.
In the meantime, I will continue to remind everyone that no one risks their lives to come to the U.S.A and get on welfare. We do it because our children's, our mothers's and father's lives depend on it.
Growing up, my mom always told me I had to work twice as hard as everyone else. I should be the first one in and the last one out. I had to be perfect just to be equal. It wasn’t just about me; my actions represented my entire community, all 53 million of us.
It’s hard to argue with my mother’s thinking when politicians, the media and American society pen every action of an individual from a minority group on that entire group. When an undocumented immigrant kills an innocent American citizen, it's as though all 12 million undocumented immigrants had committed the crime. When a Black male teenager shoplifts from a store, the media turns all Black men into thugs. When a Jihadist commits an act of terror in the name of Islam is as though the crime had been committed by 1.6 billion Muslims, by 22% of the world’s population.
The GOP debate last week focused on national security and terrorism, or I should say it focused on national security and terrorism associated with minority groups. Not once did domestic acts of terror committed by White Americans come up. There was no mention of the shooting in Charleston, and no mention of the shooting in the Planned Parenthood clinic. As an American, I would also like to know how the presidential hopefuls plan to keep me safe from acts of domestic terror committed at the hands of non-minority Americans. The Democratic debate on Saturday did touch on those shootings and on the need for gun safety to be part of the national security conversation. However, the Democratic debate only brushed the surface on issues related to Black Lives Matter, immigration was not discussed at all, and I counted only one mention of "Hispanics".
My mother looked at America as a stranger’s house. We were guests; we had to be on our best behavior, we had to be helpful and thankful for anything we got. As I grew up though, I started to view America as my own house, one that my parents helped built with their hard work. I started to understand that the American land on which we lived belong to our ancestors. America wasn’t a stranger’s house, it was my house too.
Mexicans fought along side Anglo-settlers in the Alamo, only to find themselves second-class citizens once Texas won its independence. We stayed second-class citizens along with everyone else who wasn’t White after Texas became the 28th state of the United States in 1845. In 2015, we are still trying to prove that we belong, that America is our home too. White-Straight-Male-Protestant is still the standard in America, even as our country becomes more Black, more Brown, and more religiously diverse.
People tell me that I am a “good” Mexican immigrant, a good Latina, because I went to college, because I had a successful career on Wall Street, because I became a “productive member of society”. I am a desirable immigrant. They tell me that I am a great example of the types of immigrants the U.S. should welcome. We should welcome the engineers, the scientist, the smart ones. What they are really saying though is that we should welcome the immigrants that most closely meet the White-Straight-Male-Protestant standard of America.
As an aside, other people tell me that my professional and financial success is what makes me a bad immigrant, a “criminal”, because I was undocumented for over a decade and used forged documents.
But what about the Latinos, many of whom were born in America, that don’t go to college, that labor every single day but no matter how hard they work, they still can’t make ends meet? What about them? Does America not belong to them? What about the immigrants that work in the fields, take care for our children, that prepare our food? Are they less human, less deserving of America?
When a White man in Austin, Texas yelled, “she should just go back to Saudi Arabia where she came from,” at a young Palestinian-American born in Chicago, what he is really saying is that America only belongs to him, because he is a White man. I wonder if this same man looked at himself in the mirror, would he think that because Dylann Storm Roof killed nine innocent Americans, he might be a criminal too? No. Because when White Americans commit acts of terror it is not reflective of the entire White population in America, nor should it be. Just like the actions of a few should not reflect on an entire group of undocumented, Black, or Muslim Americans.
I want to be safe in my own country too. I want to know that I matter to the politicians who claim to want the best for America. Politicians on both side of the aisle have to recognize that American also means Hispanic, Black, Muslim, and undocumented.
After the latest debates the words of Ta-Nehisi Coates came to mind, “[they] tell us to be twice as good and shoot us no matter”.
People who were born in the United States never have to think of the day they became American. They were born with that privilege, at least for now. It took me 20 years, countless sacrifices, and thousands of dollars to become a citizen of the United States, yet there are still those who believe I should be in jail or deported back to my country. There are those that call me a liar, that see me as "the personification of someone who has personally wronged them," or taken something away from them.
My country of birth is Mexico. I lived there until I was 11. Mexico will always be part of my very being. However, when people say I should be deported back to my country, I think, “America is my country. It has been since I was 11 years old”.
Over the past five months, since my life story was detailed in Bloomberg Businessweek and by other media outlets, I have come across some of the most hateful words that have ever been directed toward me. I went from selling funnel cakes on the streets of San Antonio to selling derivatives at Goldman Sachs, something that is possible only in America, something that is the very definition of the American Dream.
I broke the law by overstaying my visa and using fake documents to obtain my job at Goldman Sachs. These breaches did not come without consequences. I paid the price for every single one of my decisions. I went through a long process, paid fees, hired lawyers to represent my case, so that I could adjust my status after marrying a U.S. citizen. It took me five years to go through the legal process of adjusting my immigration status.
When I was still undocumented and heard the insults often used to discriminate against immigrants, I kept quiet. I was afraid to speak out. I have a U.S. passport now, and a voice, and would like to address some of the most inaccurate comments I have read over the past year.
1. I stole the job of a U.S. citizen, a very high paying job. 17,000 people apply for jobs at Goldman Sachs every year. The odds of getting a job there are slimmer than those of getting into Harvard. Goldman Sachs had their pick of job applicants and I still got hired. I graduated from a top business school with honors. I was president of one of largest student groups on campus. I had previous (unpaid) internships. I interview well and remember people’s names. I earned that job. If I took it from a U.S. citizen, maybe they needed to step up their game.
2. I should be in jail or deported back to my country. I am a U.S. citizen. The United States is my country. I lived in places like Texas and New York, where it is not a felony to use fake documents. If I should be in jail for using false identification, so should every college student that uses a fake I.D. to get into clubs and drink beer. I repeat, the United States is my country. I became a citizen on August 8th, 2014. Elle.com took some really nice pictures of my big day. Others were not so fortunate, the Obama administration has deported over 2 million people, tearing families apart.
3. My story is just propaganda because I don’t fit the “poor, rapist, criminal” narrative. Perhaps my story is not the story of every undocumented immigrant, but neither is the story so often seen in the media. While Wall Street may not be the stereotypical life associated with immigrants, there are 12 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S of diverse ages, socioeconomic levels and occupations.
4. I stole financial aid to go to college. Undocumented students have little to no access to financial aid. I could not even fill out the FASFA because I did not have a Social Security number when I started college. I sold funnel cakes 80 miles from my college campus, obtained the Texas Women scholarship (which did not ask for a Social Security number), and a wonderful woman co-signed a loan for me. That’s how I paid for my education. Undocumented students have access to in-state tuition and state financial aid only in six states.
5. I broke the law, period. There is a big difference between the law and justice. In 1967, it was illegal for a white person to marry a person of color. There was a time when it was illegal for women to vote. Laws must evolve as society evolves. Our immigration laws have not been updated since I was three years old. The immigration system is broken and it needs to be fixed.
6. I didn’t make myself legal soon enough. 12 million undocumented immigrants don’t live in the shadows by choice; there is no way for them to adjust their status under the current immigration system. There was no way for me to become legalized prior to marrying a U.S. citizen. There are undocumented immigrants who, even if they marry a U.S. citizen and have U.S. citizen children, cannot adjust their immigration status if they crossed the border illegally. I came to the U.S. with a tourist visa, which made all the difference in adjusting my status.
7. I assimilated. Why can’t all “illegals” do the same? In 1910, 22% of white immigrants 21 and older could not speak English. It takes time and several generations to assimilate. I learned to speak English because my parents had the resources to send me to summer school and hire a private tutor. Not everyone has those same resources.
It’s not only people who hide behind an anonymous online identity that make uneducated, hateful remarks. It’s also people in the media and in the public eye who perpetuate myths about immigrants. In some ways, becoming a U.S. citizen has empowered me to speak out, to feel safe, to feel a part of the country I love. In other ways, it doesn’t matter that I am now a citizen of the United States, many still label me an “illegal,” who should have never become a U.S citizen. To those people I say, I am an American, the United States is my country, and I get to influence what my country looks like and what it stands for.Read More
There has never been a more critical time to ask ourselves, how do we Define America? Who does America belong to? Does it belong to you if you were born here? According to Trump, Rubio, Cruz and others, "Anchor Babies" do not deserve birthright citizenship. Does it belong to you if you were naturalized? Does it only belong to you if you are a "White" American? Who does it belong to?
My brother was born in San Antonio, TX on Christmas Day 1992. He truly is the best Christmas present my family has ever received. As the youngest of 4 siblings and the only boy, my parents were ecstatic about his arrival. My parents were legally in the country when my brother was born, they owned a business and employed U.S. Citizens. My brother is now a senior in college, he's a smart, hardworking man. What he is not is an "Anchor Baby," but if it's left up to certain politicians, his very citizenship would come into question.
Last year, he was with me when I became a U.S. Citizen, he celebrated me as a New American. It pains me to think that while was born on American soil, that while he is working hard to finish college, politicians are questioning whether he should be an American. Tell me, how do we define American?Read More
Before every "Constitutional Defender" gets excited about Trump's plan, ask yourselves one simple question, "How?"
1. A nation without borders is not a nation at all. Let's build a wall.
How does Trump plan on funding the construction of such a wall? Mexico will pay for it, according to him, but Mexican officials have shut down his fantasies repeatedly. Mexico has nothing to gain from building the wall, they will not pay for it. The more realistic ways to pay for such a wall are 1) to increase taxes 2) increase the national debt.
2. A nation without laws is not a nation. Laws passed in accordance with our constitutional system of government must be enforced.
This second point is the most problematic of the three. How does Trump plan to find and deport 11 million people? How much will it cost, and how does he plan on funding the logistical undertaking of deporting 11 million people? He plans to end birthright citizenship. How can you end the 14th Constitutional amendment and pretend to defend the constitution? If we plan to deport United States Citizens because they were born to undocumented parents, let's do it retroactively. If your grandparents or great-grandparents were here illegally, your parents and you should also have to go.
3. A nation that does not serve its own citizens is not a nation. Any immigration plan must improve jobs, wages and security for all Americans.
He actually has some valid points here. Wages should increase for HB-1 AND HB-2 visas. I am in agreement with that. Too often, guests workers are paid below the minimum wage and raped and abused by their employers. I too want an America that is safe, so do 11 million undocumented Americans, many of them came to America to escape violence and crime in their own countries. The big question on point number three is this- HOW does he plan to implement his proposed policies and how does he plan to combat the negative consequences of abruptly stopping the green card program?
The only good thing about Trump's immigration plan is that he will now force other GOP and Democratic candidates to issue comprehensive plans on immigration.
On August 8, 2014, I became an American Citizen, almost twenty years after I came to live in the U.S. My life has completely changed in the last year. I moved across the country to pursue new opportunities. I am no longer a banker, but an activist and a writer. My future is the most uncertain and brightest it has ever been.
Every single day I am reminded of the privilege I have to hold a U.S. passport. To come and go as I please, to cross "The Border" as freely as a bird, even if the Homeland Security officers stare at my passport for five minutes before "welcoming me" home. Every single day, I am also reminded of the responsibility I have to make sure others have the same privileges as me.
I've had to fight not to believe those that think there will always be a big, bright, scarlet letter over my passport. Did I misrepresent myself in achieving career success? What about my marriage? Am I really doing this for others or to "build my brand"? I used fake papers to get a job, but everything I did to get that job, I did, I earned by hard work and dedication. Marriage is complicated, love is complicated, just ask anyone that has ever been in love. One day, I'll write an entire book on how deeply I have loved and how deeply my heart has been cut to ribbons. I have always wanted to be successful, to make an impact, to change the world, those things haven't changed. But I measure success and impact entirely different than I did before. People ask me why I feel like I must justify myself? Because I can, because I have a voice. Because others can't.
By the time I turn 2, in American years, we will be months away from an election that will be critical for communities of color, for middle-class families, for women, for undocumented immigrants. Tuesday, November 8, 2016, will be the first time I can vote in a Presidential election, and I will do all I can to make sure that the candidate who best meets our interests, wins.
As I celebrate my American birthday today, I am filled with hope that soon I will celebrate 12 million other birthdays.
This essay originally appeared on Huffington Post on July 7, 2015.
My senior year in high school was a tough one. My mom suffered a devastating accident, my college dreams were fading away, and I felt like the biggest liar in the world.
It was the year 2000, a year before the DREAM Act to provide a path to citizenship for undocumented children was introduced in Congress. I knew I couldn't be the only one, but I had not heard of a single person like me -- someone who came to the U.S as a child and thought America was home. I didn't feel like a DREAMer, I felt like an imposter.
The thought of telling anyone, even my closest friend, that I was an "illegal alien" seemed impossible -- and equally impossible was the thought of not keeping my immigration status a secret. The idea of publicly "coming out" never even crossed my mind.
One day, I gathered all the courage I had and decided to tell Troy, my high school boyfriend. I was nervous in the same way I was nervous when I had to tell my parents I did something wrong. I don't remember exactly what I said, or how I said it -- it's all a blur now.
The day after I told him, we skipped school and made our way to the INS office in San Antonio to ask for the requirements for "my friend" to become a U.S. Citizen through marriage. In retrospect, that was probably a terrible idea, walking into an INS office, saying here I am.
I was somewhat relieved when we realized that even if we got married, I still wouldn't be able to become a U.S Permanent Resident, because as high school students we didn't meet the income requirements. I didn't want to marry Troy, or anyone for that matter. I didn't want to get married at 17.
Regardless of whether I would be able to fix my immigration status by telling him, I felt an incredible sense of relief that someone knew, that someone understood. I no longer had to make up excuses for why I wasn't applying to colleges for early admission. I could share all my fears and anxiety with my best friend. It was great to be able to tell someone everything. It was great, that is until I wanted to break up with him. This was high school and I wasn't immune to high school drama, and fleeting high school love.
During an English class project, I developed a huge crush on my teammate, we'll call him Jesse. But how could I break up with Troy? Troy was my best friend. I cared deeply for him and I didn't want to hurt him. He pawned his guitar so he could buy me a Christmas present, he wrote me poems and drew portraits of me. He was the sweet guy. He understood me, he knew everything and I didn't have to feel embarrassed around him. I felt a deep sense of guilt and betrayal for even wanting to break up with him, and I also felt trapped. I broke up with him, got back together with him, broke up with him again, got back together. The relief of telling him my secret was quickly overshadowed by guilt. It took years before I trusted anyone with my secret again. I didn't want to put myself in the same situation. I didn't want to feel obligated to anyone just for understanding me and for not judging me.
It took 15 years, the film Documented and a U.S passport obtained through marriage to publicly share my story. I get countless messages from people telling me I was so brave to share my story. I must admit that I don't feel so brave. I lived in the shadows for what felt like an eternity. I didn't risk being deported, being separated from my family, being fired from my job when I shared my story. I wasn't declaring from the top of my lungs that I was undocumented and unafraid. I kept quiet, I kept to myself, and I tried to blend in.
When I watched Documented on April 17, 2014, everything changed. In the documentary, Jose Antonio Vargas risks everything to "come out" as an undocumented American. I watched with admiration and excitement as the DREAMers inspired him to share his story, to join the fight.
His film and his very personal story gave me the confidence to share my own. It inspired me to finally own up to my past -- I realize now that I never gave Troy the credit he deserved, that the guilt was all mine.
It's not the year 2000 anymore and the DREAM Act hasn't passed, but over the last 15 years a movement has been brewing. There have been many truly brave heroes who have made it possible for me to share my story, to feel less alone and to hopefully help other undocumented Americans along the way in my role at Define American, a media and culture organization started by Vargas.
At Define American, we believe there is tremendous power in personal stories. One story changed the course of my life. Imagine if our collective stories can change history? This question is at the heart of our new "Coming Out" campaign, which encourages undocumented Americans to step out of the shadows.
I hope there will be thousands of people who will be braver than me, who will join in writing a different story for America -- one that ends with our great country embracing the diversity of all its residents.
Desde el gobernador de Michigan, Rick Snyder, hasta el CEO de Dow Chemical, Andrew Liveris, casi todos los panelistas en la reciente cumbre “Frbes Reinventing America”declararon que mientras la inmigración es un factor clave para el crecimiento económico de los Estados Unidos, es a menudo subestimado. El gobernador Snyder lo dijo claramente: “Tenemos un sistema de inmigración defectuoso; es algo estúpido”. Me dio mucho entusiasmo que tantos líderes de gobierno y del sector privado reconocieran la correlación entre la inmigración y la ventaja competitiva de nuestra nación.
No obstante, me quedé con la duda de por qué nadie habló de la fuente tan increíble de talento que representan los estudiantes elegibles para la Acción Diferida Para Llegados en la Infancia (DACA, en inglés). Este programa federal ya en su tercer año y con una expansión bajo consideración por los tribunales federales permite a los jóvenes que llegaron a los EE UU antes de cumplir los 16 años a trabajar legalmente y ser exentos de deportación. Estos permisos son renovables cada dos años a costa del solicitante. Si las compañías de verdad toman en serio tanto el talento como la diversidad, deberían de reclutar a los beneficiarios de DACA. Si no lo hacen seguirán pasando por alto algunas de las mentes más brillantes de la nación.
Son cada vez más comunes las historias sobre jóvenes indocumentados que alcanzan grandes logros. Noticias como la de las gemelas indocumentadas qe fueron primeras en su clase graduada y que ahora estudian en la Universidad de Notre Dame; el inmigrante mexicano que cofundó una de las cmpañías más grandes del mundo de aeronaves no tripuladas;y el pimer estudiante indocumentado de medicina en la Universidad de California en San Francisco, son ejemplos del intelecto y el valor que distinguen a los jóvenes indocumentados en los EE UU.
Las compañías estadounidenses siempre se quejan por la falta de visas H1B (visas para no inmigrantes diseñadas para que los empleadores puedan reclutar y contratar a profesionales extranjeros en capacidades técnicas). La expansión de ese programa es necesario, pero también es necesario aprovecharse del talento de los estudiantes con DACA, representado por jóvenes que llevan la mayor parte de sus vidas en nuestro sistema educativo y consideran a los EE UU su país.
Cada año se gradúan 65,000 estudiantes indocumentados de la preparatoria. A pesar de enfrentar grandes retos, muchos estudiantes DACA se gradúan exitosamente de la universidad solo para encontrarse con políticas corporativas de reclutamiento que los excluyen. A estos jóvenes que buscan trabajo quienes tienen número de seguro social y permisos para trabajar se les hacen responder a preguntas ambiguas o imposibles sobre su estatus migratorio, como por ejemplo: ¿es ciudadano de los EE UU, residente o necesita patrocinio de empleo? Estudiantes DACA no califican bajo ninguna de estas categorías y se quedan con muy pocas opciones para explicar su estatus legal mientras que compiten con cientos de otros solicitantes.
Los departamentos de recursos humanos de las grandes corporaciones no están al día de cómo incluir a solicitantes que tienen DACA y muchas veces ni conocen el programa, a pesar de su prominencia en las noticias nacionales ya por tres años. En julio del 2014, Rubén Juárez, un mexicano beneficiario de DACA, dmandó a Northwestern Mutual tas que le denegara una oferta de empleo por no ser ciudadano o residente permanente. Un juez recientemente rechazó la moción de Northwestern para desestimar el caso. Aunque la demanda se resolvió en privado, esa orden judicial manda un mensaje claro a las compañías que no pueden discriminar entre distintos estatus legales.
¿Cuál es el resultado de las prácticas actuales del sector privado? Programas de reclutamiento rechazan a candidatos viables y como resultado, sufren tanto estas corporaciones como la economía estadounidense en general.
Los “DACAmentados”, quienes a pesar de los retos se gradúan de universidad muchas veces sin asistencia financiera o apoyo familiar, también pierden oportunidades valiosas para su desarrollo profesional que sí están disponibles para sus colegas. Por ejemplo, algunos de los programas de desarrollo profesional y de mentoría para estudiantes minoritarios más importantes, como por ejemplo Sponsors for Educational Opportunities, INROADS y CODE2040, no dejan claro si estudiantes DACA cualifican para sus programas. Aun cuando los programas aceptan a estudiantes DACA, sus requisitos de solicitud son sumamente difícil de encontrar. Cuando llamé a uno de estos programas para preguntarles si los estudiantes de DACA cualifiquen, la respuesta fue, “qué es DACA?”.
Como muchos estudiantes DACA, no tuve el beneficio de padres que conocieran el proceso de solicitud para universidades ni cómo navegar el mundo empresario. Sin embargo, tve una carrera exitosa en Wall Street y me hice vicepresidenta en Goldman Sachs a los 27 años. No hubiera sido posible todo este éxito sin los consejos que recibí a través de programas de desarrollo profesional. Las entrevistas de práctica, talleres de “Vestirse para el Éxito” (Dess for Success,en inglés) y entrenamientos con el programa Dale Carnegie, y los mentores que ofrecían estos programas, fueron factores cruciales en mi éxito profesional.
A pesar de los obstáculos que enfrentan los DACAmentados el rechazo de las universidades, los retos financieros para estudiar, y el estigma de ser indocumentado, mantienen una pasión por el éxito y resultan ser algunos de los jóvenes más talentosos de nuestra nación. ¿Qué compañía no quisiera a estos jóvenes como empleados?
From Michigan’s Governor, Rick Snyder, to Dow Chemical’s CEO, Andrew Liveris, almost every single panelist at the recent 2015 Forbes Reinventing America Summit declared immigration a key asset to growing America’s economy and an often undervalued resource. Governor Snyder put it simply: “We have a broken immigration system; it’s dumb.” I was thrilled that so many government and business leaders recognized the correlation between immigration and our nation’s competitive advantage.
However, I was left wondering why no one talked about the amazing pool of diverse talent among students eligible for Deferred Action for Early Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The federal program - now in its third year, with an expansion currently being debated in federal court - allows young people who arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16 to work legally, be exempt from deportation, and is renewable every two years at the applicant’s expense. If companies are serious about talent and diversity, they must recruit DACA recipients - or continue to overlook some of the nation’s most brilliant minds.
Stories of undocumented young people achieving great success are becoming increasingly common. News of the undocumented twin high school valedictorians who now attend the University of Notre Dame, the Mexican immigrant who co-founded one of the largest drone firms in the world, and the first undocumented medical student at U.C. San Francisco illustrate both the intellect and drive that is brought to the table by young undocumented Americans.
U.S. businesses often complain that more H1-B visas are needed (non-immigrant visas designed to allow employers to recruit and employ foreign professionals in specialty occupations). Expansion of that program is necessary, but so is tapping into the DACA talent pool, represented by young people who have been in our education system most of their lives and call this America home.
Every year, 65,000 undocumented students graduate from high school. Despite huge barriers, many DACA students go on to graduate college successfully, but later find that corporate recruitment policies throw down the gauntlet on their admissions process. These job seekers - who have a social security number and work authorization - must answer ambiguous or impossible immigration status questions: U.S. citizen, resident, or needs employment sponsorship. DACA students do not fall under any of these strict categories and are left with minimal options to explain their unique status while often competing with hundreds of other applicants.
Corporate HR departments are not up to date on how to include DACA job applicants or are many times not even familiar with the program, despite its prominence in the national news for three years. In July 2014, Ruben Juarez, a Mexican-born DACA recipient, sued Northwestern Mutual after the company reneged his employment offer because he was not a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident. A judge recently denied Northwestern Mutual’s motion to dismiss the case, and while the case has since been privately settled, the ruling sends a strong message that companies cannot pick and choose which work authorizations they will honor.
The result of these practices? Recruiting programs turn away viable candidates, and both individual companies and the U.S. economy lose out.
The DACAmented, who above all odds graduated from college often with no government financial aid or family support, also lose out on professional development opportunities offered to their peers. For example, some of the top career and mentorship programs for minority students such as Sponsors for Educational Opportunities, INROADS, and CODE2040, do not make it clear if DACA students qualify for any of their programs. Even if they are welcome, some of these program’s websites make it uniquely difficult for DACA beneficiaries to get basic information and apply. When I called the office of one of the programs and asked if DACA students qualify, the answer was: “What is DACA?”
Like many DACA students, I did not have the benefit of parents who knew the college application process or how to navigate entry into the corporate world. Yet, while undocumented, I built a successful career on Wall Street, becoming a vice president at Goldman Sachs by 27. My success would not have been possible without the guidance provided by career development programs. The mock interviews, Dress for Success workshops, Dale Carnegie training and mentors that these programs offered were instrumental in my career success.
Despite the many obstacles the DACAmented face - being turned away from higher education, financial issues, and the stigma of being undocumented- they maintain a drive to succeed and are some of our country’s most talented young people. What company wouldn’t want this type of employee?Read More
I must confess that for a long time, I struggled to understand how LGBTQ could be. I thought my Christians beliefs were are odds with understanding LGBTQ people. Sometimes, I still have a hard time wrapping my head around it. I've asked a lot of personal, probably inappropriate questions of my LGBT friends, and they responded so openly and so kindly, and never took offense- I was trying to understand. Now, I don't really need to understand or know how, or why. I just know that God loves people, he made us all, we are all human beings. Our souls are what lives forever, in all eternity. Our souls don't care where we were born, who we love, what body we have, what passports we have. The turning point for me was people, the stories of people who had suffered so much. The stories of people who had to live in the shadows, in a closet, afraid to show who they really were. The stories of PEOPLE.
Our immigrant communities are some of the most anti-LGBTQ communities out there and we must change that. We must change that because if we don't want the color of our skin to define us, if we don't want pieces of paper to define us, then we cannot define others by outward things either.
We must create in our communities understanding and acceptance of ALL people.
Please go read this beautiful post by Laverne Cox.
"This is why we need diverse media representstions of trans folks to multiply trans narratives in the media and depict our beautiful diversities....
I have hoped over the past few years that the incredible love I have received from the public can translate to the lives of all trans folks. Trans folks of all races, gender expressions, ability, sexual orientations, classes, immigration status, employment status, transition status, genital status etc... The struggle continues…"
Today marks my one year anniversary with Define American!
On April 17, 2014, I watched Documented for the first time. Half-way through the film, I looked over at my boyfriend full of tears and I said, "I have to be a part of this". A month and a half later, I was hired as the Director of Development for Define American.
I could have never imagined how much my life would change in just one year. My role has changed, I live in a new city across the country and every day I thank God for the opportunity to live out my dream.
The road ahead of me is a tough one. We have a long way to go before ALL Americans recognize immigration as a humans rights issue. We have a long way to go before ALL immigrants take back their dignity. We have a long way to go before we are recognized as Americans, even before a pieces of paper say that we are. My heart has been broken over and over again in the past year, and at the same time my heart is continually renewed with hope.
I could not ask for smarter, stronger, kinder people, than the people at Define American, who every day give everything to make the road smoother.Read More
I had the pleasure of meeting the students of ALIANZA at the International High School in New York last week. ALIANZA is a group of 16 recently arrived immigrant students from Mexico, Central and South America, 9-12th grade. Some of of the students crossed as unaccompanied minors, while others came to the U.S to reunite with family after decades of separation. They all share a common goal: to graduate and conquer their dreams.
Many of these students, especially the male students, are financially responsible for their families in the U.S and often send remittances to their home countries as well. Can you imagine being 16 years old and being financially responsible for your family? I cannot, it breaks my heart. When their teacher shared with me some of the circumstances these children have endured, I expected to meet very different students.
What I encountered where children full of hope and energy. These sixteen students reminded me of how much the human spirit is able to endure, conquer and overcome.
I thank them for allowing me to sit in their circle of trust, for their honest and tough questions and for giving me sixteen more reasons to keep fighting for equality and dignity for all immigrants.
I must also express my gratitude to their teacher, who reached out to me to come speak with them, and to all teachers who make a huge difference in young people's lives.
I am a woman of faith, of Christian faith to be precise, most importantly though, I just love God. I love his faithfulness and his love for me. I went through some pretty dark moments of uncertainty, some serious heartbreak, and through it all God continued to show me love. God carried me through every single moment. Faith really is believing without seeing, and I needed a lot of faith with each step I took. I didn't know if I was going to be able to attend college until three weeks before I set foot on the UT campus. I didn't know how I was going to pay college when the City of San Antonio built a museum in the place where I sold Funnel Cakes. I didn't know how I would get a job after college. There were a lot of things I didn't know, but I have always known that God, my saver, my redeemer has called me by name. God, my redeemer, has ordered my steps.
The way I wake up every morning is with my arm by my head, and the first thing I see is "Redeemed." It reminds me each morning that no matter what happens, God has me.Read More
As someone who was undocumented for over a decade, I know a thing or two about keeping secrets. I was afraid of letting people fully into my life, even my closest friends. I had to compartmentalize every area of my life, and as much as I wanted to be myself with my friends, I was afraid. I was afraid they would look at me differently, I was afraid they would reject me, I was afraid they would feel sorry for me.
There were vacations I couldn’t take with them, not even to Puerto Rico, I was too afraid. I would show up late or early to outings since I used my Mexican passport as I.D., and that always raised questions- why didn’t I just use my license? I could only make up losing my license so many times. Slowly, but surely all those secrets, all those slight modifications to daily life starting taking a toll. It was as much an emotional toll as a physical one. I had chronic back pain, such awful pain that I would lay on the floor for hours at a time. I tried to live a normal life, but I had lived so many years with tiny little lies, that I didn’t even know what was really normal anymore. I didn’t really know who ‘myself’ was.
Slowly, I started letting people, I would have broken otherwise. If I regret anything, is not letting my friends in sooner. I had dinner with a dear friend, who was also my roommate in New York, last night and it felt so good to finally be able to tell her everything. I am sure so many of my ‘quirks’ finally made sense! I wanted to say sorry for taking so long, but she understood— real friends always do.
I have come to realize that the most beautiful thing in life is for someone to know you, to really know you. But before others could know me, I had to figure out who I was. Beyond the papers I didn’t have, beyond the things I had to do to survive, beyond what I had, and what I didn’t have.
I’ll continue to discover me, but I am so thankful that this crazy journey has taken me this far— to a place where I know me and others know me too.
I just finished updating my status with the Social Security Administration as that of a U.S citizen. Next Tuesday when I travel to my homeland, Mexico, I’ll be using my U.S passport for the first time. I didn’t think these things would make a difference in how I felt, I already felt American for a long time. But these documents, these pieces of paper, do make me feel different, they make me feel legitimate, they make me feel like I belong. At least today, that’s my feeling. I also see the unfair and arbitrary nature of our immigration system. There are still 11.5 million undocumented Americans who wait for a path to citizenship, I am not any more deserving than any of them. The President’s executive action is a step in the right direction, it protects families from being separated, it offers people a dignified way to work, to be seen, to come out of the shadows. But it is not enough. Undocumented Americans have called the U.S their home for an average of 10yrs (I waited 20yrs), when will we recognize them as our own?
My last post on “I don’t have to be a Black Men to Care,” created quite the reaction and comments from a couple of passionate people of perhaps opposing views— I appreciate their thoughts. I can’t quite say for sure that we were saying completely different things, but we certainly disagreed on some things. A few thoughts came to mind:
1. People thought I was pointing fingers- I can see how that might be the case. But that was not my intention. If I was pointing fingers, it was at our culture, and we are ALL part of our culture.
2. Culture will not change it all, just like laws haven’t changed it all. This is true, and nothing more true than the family having to change and stick together and teach our kids different values.
3. There was one comment in particular that really struck me. But, I’ll let Benjamin Watson’s amazing response express my sentiment. ”I’M OFFENDED, because of the insulting comments I’ve seen that are not only insensitive but dismissive to the painful experiences of others”.
4. I also will let Benjamin Watson, make two more points for me:
I’M CONFUSED, because I don’t know why it’s so hard to obey a policeman. You will not win!!! And I don’t know why some policeman abuse their power. Power is a responsibility, not a weapon to brandish and lord over the populace.
I’M SYMPATHETIC, because I wasn’t there so I don’t know exactly what happened. Maybe Darren Wilson acted within his rights and duty as an officer of the law and killed Michael Brown in self defense like any of us would in the circumstance. Now he has to fear the backlash against himself and his loved ones when he was only doing his job. What a horrible thing to endure. OR maybe he provoked Michael and ignited the series of events that led to him eventually murdering the young man to prove a point.
5. Maybe I should have just brought attention to Watson’s response, because it was spot on. and shut up. LOL.
6. My new friend Pita had an amazing response- She’s freaking awesome, and super strong.
The reality is…WE WERE NOT THERE.
We were not there to see if Darren Wilson acted within he’s rights and was defending himself. We were not there to see if Michael Brown provoked the officer. We don’t even know how we ourselves would react in that situation….We will never truly know what exactly happened. All we do know is that a young man’s life was lost and another man’s life will forever be altered. Families torn apart.
Ignorance, hatred, bigotry, ambition, kindness and compassion are all qualities that all people are capable of. Not one race encompasses one quality more than any other race. People make good decisions and bad ones. Some find it difficult to obey authority…some don’t. Some authority figures abuse their power…some don’t.
Some are getting so mixed up in the details of what happened to try to justify their side. To make it cut, clear and dry. Maybe its not that simple. Maybe its a gray area. Why do we do this? To make ourselves feels better that we have placed that topic in a box and have checked it off. The same we do with the characterization of races and the qualities that they hold. As humans we are capable of holding/believing in different ideologies that contradict each other. I do believe the officer was acting in self defense but i also strongly believe he was using EXCESSIVE force. I don’t agree with the riots but understand the sentiment behind it.
I do believe that is what Julissa Arce was hitting upon in her blog. This gray area. We are all entitled to have our own opinions, whether we like it not.
There is a lack balance in this country in regards to race and race in the media. I agree that the media has become one dimensional. Extremely one-sided. You will never see “Police Officer Killed While Investigating Robbery” making headlines. The same way you don’t see missing children reports of black/latino children on the news. You see reports of white children. Black men make up more than 40% of the prison population. Hispanic men follow in close second making up the other 40%. Racial profiling is contributing to the disproportionate number of incarcerations. The majority of crimes are not committed by minorities, and most minorities are not criminals. More minority arrests and convictions perpetuate the belief that minorities commit more crimes, which in turn leads to racial profiling. You won’t see this making any CNN news headlines. Race is an issue in the Brown case. It’s an issue in this country. The fabric of this country is tightly woven with the contradicting ideologies that all men are created equal but one was able to own slaves. It’s not more difficult for blacks or more difficult for hispanics. IT IS DIFFICULT FOR ALL MINORITIES!!! Just different obstacles for each race. To ignore the racism issue and say its media pushing it out, is being blind of the close ties this country has to racism. Ignoring that makes racism live.
What the Brown case and riots have done is create a platform to talk about racism. Hopefully enlighten others who might not be so knowledgable…or maybe change the hearts of others. You can’t change something until you recognize the problem. There is a bigger picture.
Now back to checking on that turkey.
Some people might say that I have no place commenting on what’s happening in Ferguson because I’ve never had to spend a day as a Black men. But I don’t have to be a Black men to empathize with the pain of Michael Brown’s family. I don’t have to be a Black men to recognize injustice. I don’t have to be a Black men to be disgusted by what is happening in our county. I don’t have to be a Black men to know that Black lives matter. In fact, I think that if only Black people cared about Black issues, and if only Gay people cared about Gay issues, and if only undocumented people cared about undocumented issues- we would never see any change or progress. The rest of what I am about to say is just from me, Julissa. Not Julissa as an immigrant rights activist- in fact, I can’t even call myself that, because I have yet to do very much on that front.
Darren Wilson not getting indicted is cause for protest. I am not saying he was guilty or not guilty, but there was certainly enough of a question mark to warrant further investigation.
Michael Brown robbed a convenience store, but he was not in some crazy police chase because he robbed said convinience store. He was walking in the middle of an empty street- jaywalking. We’ll never know the full details of what happened that day. What we do know is that an 18-year-old Black teenager was shot…. SIX TIMES, by a White cop.
Maybe, just maybe, Darren Wilson was fearful for his life. But to me, the real question is WHY? Would he had even stopped and told Michael Brown to get off the street if Michael Brown didn’t look the way he did? Would Darren Wilson have pressed the issue?
Now, I am going to say something not-so-popular. Michael Brown punched the cop, he put himself in danger. BUT here is the thing, he didn’t deserve to be shot.. SIX TIMES. AND… why should it be a life-threatening danger in the first place?
The reason Darren Wilson might have been scared for his life, and the reason Michael Brown’s actions were life-ending, and the reason Wilson wasn’t indicted is because our culture tells us so.
Everything we read on the news, the TV series, the films we watch, the music we listen to— It all tells us to be scared of a Black Teenager, it all tells us that a White Cop is acting in self-defense. I love what Benjamin Watson had to say, “I’M FRUSTRATED, because pop culture, music and movies glorify these types of police citizen altercations and promote an invincible attitude that continues to get young men killed in real life, away from safety movie sets and music studios”.
Laws have made it illegal to segregate schools. Laws have made it illegal to discriminate based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion. Laws are suppose to protect us from these type of injustices, but as evidenced by what is happening in Ferguson- laws have failed us. Not just once, many times.
Policy can change, but until our culture changes, these things will keep happening in all of our communities. We have to reject what we see on TV, question what the news tells us. We must tell our own stories, write our own films, and change our culture. We must reject what is told to us about us.