Here are five stories from brave Latinos and Latinas that came out to their families. Their stories start with hurt and pain and eventually transform to joy and being able to live. Their stories remind everyone to have faith, strength, and remember, #YouAreNotAlone.
It’s time for a change and Jose Antonio Vargas is leading the charge. The Define American founder launched a new campaign, Coming Out, to give undocumented Americans a virtual community to unite, empower and work toward an immigration reform. Why would someone “come out” for immigration? As Vargas says, “We ‘come out’ to let people in.” Here are some men and women that have come out.
“In Rodrigo I see somebody who embodies all that it means to be American. He holds himself to a high standard every day.”
US-born Katherine Vieiramendes joined the campaign for her husband Rodrigo who migrated from Brazil at 22. Katherine’s eyes opened after seeing her husband work 12-hour, back-breaking construction shifts in order for them to survive.
“I’m shattered, like a broken mirror, reflecting my fragmented reality. How do I pick up the pieces and move on?”
After working three jobs and going to school full-time to become a teacher, Julio Navarrete was alerted by the human resources department at Downtown College Prep that his social security number. His only hope for residency is through the DREAM Act.
“There are no laws in effect to protect me or my family from this. While politicians debate, millions of families like mine are being torn apart.”
Nick and Eloisa received a letter from the government saying she is permanently barred from becoming a U.S. citizen. They revoked her legal permanent residency because because she lied about her citizenship in college. She says she is left with no choice but to return to Mexico. Her husband, an American citizen, has decided to follow Eloisa to Mexico.
“The problem is that the only people that get visas are the people that have money. The poor people, they never get a visa.”
Fernando Sacoto says he had to immigrate illegally because the legal immigration process for the U.S. discriminates against the poor. He dedicated countless nights while at war and in military training to learn the English language to fully assimilate. Fernando says it took “fighting during a hostile time” in 2006 for him to become a citizen.
“I learned that I did not, as a human being, belong to this nation. That twisted sentiment was always a painful one to come to terms with. That I was unwanted. That my existence was ‘illegal.'”
Esmy Jimenez’s mother brought her to the U.S. when she was one year old, fleeing an abusive husband and extreme poverty. As she grew up, she heard the politicians and some Americans talking about the problem of illegal immigration making her feel like “a thing.” She is now at the University of Southern California on a full tuition, merit-based scholarship.
“I understand why there is a need to pass something, but honestly does it need to be so harsh? Immigrants are people too! And one of those people just happen to be my soul mate.”
Ashley Sims-Pecina was born and raised in Alabama and that’s where she met her husband Michael Pecina. Years after they met, Michael came out to Ashley as undocumented. Living in Alabama, the state with the harshest anti-immigrant laws, leaves Ashley with a constant fear of losing her husband because he is still undocumented.
“While I can, thankfully now, legally work and travel domestically, and I know in my heart that I am an American, I’m still waiting for my country to recognize me as such.”
Julián Gómez was brought to Miami with his sister after their parents’ store in Argentina was robbed. Julián lived as an undocumented American until he applied for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. That was not enough to offer him the same benefits other American citizens receive for higher education. Julián was unable to get federal student loans because he did not have a green card. He is now buried under a crushing private loan debt he is trying to pay off working as a digital analyst in Washington D.C.
“It was important for me to come out because I needed to reveal, for myself, and for those who come after me, that there is hope and that there is a way out.”
Ariana Aparicio was born in Mexico but the U.S. is her home and the only country she knows. Ariana has been open about her undocumented status since she was in college and coming out then offered her resources to get the education she needed to follow her dream of educating her community. Ariana hopes that, through education, the undocumented community can create a permanent change that will benefit everyone.
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