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My Name Is Cindy. I’m Undocumented. I Can Make A Difference.

In this personal essay series, we hear from the people who would — and in some cases already have — benefit from DACA and DAPA. This is Cindy’s story.


Many of you have heard the term “DREAMers” — those who arrived to the U.S. as children without lawful status. My name is Cindy, and I’m a DREAMer.

I’ve had the opportunity to take part in community actions to support immigrants and students who, like me, encountered many tribulations due to their legal status. Through my civic engagement, I’ve found a passion for policy, politics and our legislative system. It was here in New Mexico that I began a lonely road to becoming the “political advocate” I wanted to be, to represent and inform our communities and students across the state.

This wasn’t always seen as a good thing. I’ve been judged, criticized, screamed at and offended many times because of others’ dissatisfaction with what I was doing.

I remember once standing at the state capitol, speaking to a woman I had viewed as an ally and mentor who became outraged that I was not doing what she asked. She called me a traitor, claiming I had no connection to my roots and that I didn’t understand the struggle of my communities. This woman is an educated U.S. citizen who holds a doctorate degree and lives a financially comfortable life, and she was accusing me of not knowing the struggle and of forgetting my roots. Rather than respond to attacks, I learned I was better off investing my time learning a system that has disenfranchised so many of our communities across the country for far too long.

It wasn’t until June 2015 that I went public with my legal status, when I became the first DREAMer to serve as an intern for the Democratic National Committee headquarters. Being one of the few DREAMers to be as visible and as politically active as I’ve become hasn’t been easy. I’ve felt intimidated and confused many times. However, my passion and commitment to support immigrant students and families has always been my driving force.

And while it may have not been easy, it has been truly empowering.


Credit: Courtesy of Cindy Nava-Miramontes

There have been times when I’d look around and wonder how many other young people working at the legislature, the halls of Congress or the Democratic National Committee were working for free like I was. How many of them were undocumented? The answer answer was, unfortunately and far too frequently, “no one else.”

How many of them worried about how they would pay tuition? How many of them worried about having enough gas to drive to the Capitol? Who else worried about what to say or how to speak? I’ve wished there was a “help” button to answer those questions. But the truth is that the path I’m on has not been fully cleared for me to walk upon. It is up to me to clear the road less traveled for undocumented students interested in policy and politics.

I recall a day that a driver’s license bill was to be heard on the Senate floor, and I decided to stay to listen. Thanks to the New Mexico majority leader, I was able to sit on the Senate floor, right next to his chair, and join him eating popcorn and hot tamales as heavy attacks and accusations began to fly from right-wing members. I can still see the face of a legislator who claimed that all undocumented immigrants were here to steal jobs and to live off the government. He said that undocumented immigrants were thieves and did not deserve to be here.

One could imagine that after hearing all of those harsh and personally demoralizing comments I should have been crying, but instead I sat there analyzing the facts: I was there interning for free. My parents have never received government money. My parents held up to three jobs in order to raise my siblings and me. It was at this moment that I reaffirmed the need for me to be there, and the importance of understanding the systems in order to create durable and permanent change.

Whether you are working behind the scenes, serving as scholar activists, working the front lines of rallies and demonstrations, working within educational institutions to change systems or serving as advocates to change policies and laws through legislative action, it is important to have advocates at all levels to set a strong and ethical example for the leaders of tomorrow. We must support and serve as true and genuine visionary leaders who remember where we came from and where we are going.

In the faces of the women cleaning the floors of Congress, I will forever see my mother’s reflection, and in the hands of the many construction workers across our immigrant nation, I will forever see my father’s life.

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9-Year-Old Migrant Girl Drowns While Trying to Cross the Rio Grande in the U.S.

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9-Year-Old Migrant Girl Drowns While Trying to Cross the Rio Grande in the U.S.

Photo via Getty Images

On March 20th, U.S. Border Patrol agents found a 9-year-old migrant girl unresponsive along with her mother and sibling on an island in the Rio Grande.

U.S. Border Patrol agents attempted to resuscitate the family. The agents were able to revive the mother and her younger, 3-year-old child. The Border Patrol agents transferred the 9-year-old migrant girl to emergency medics in emergency medics in Eagle Pass, Texas, but she remained unresponsive.

In the end, the 9-year-old migrant girl died–the cause of death being drowning.

The mother of the two children was Guatemalan while the two children were born in Mexico.

The death of the 9-year-old migrant girl is notable because this is the first migrant child death recorded in this current migration surge. And experts worry that it won’t be the last.

And while this is the first child death, it is not the only migrant who has died trying to make it across the border. On Wednesday, a Cuban man drowned while trying to swim across the border between Tijuana and San Diego. He was the second migrant to drown in just a two-week period.

Why is this happening?

According to some reports, the reason so many migrants are heading towards the U.S. right now is “because President Trump is gone”. They believe they have a better chance of claiming asylum in the U.S.

Another factor to take into consideration is that a large number of these migrants are unaccompanied minors. According to migrant services volunteer Ruben Garcia, Title 42 is actually having the opposite effect of its intent. President Trump enacted Title 42 to prevent immigration during COVID-19 for “safety reasons”.

“Families that have been expelled multiple times that are traveling with children,” Garcia told PBS News Hour. “Some of them are making the decision to send their children in by themselves, because they have families someplace in the U.S., and they know their children will be released to them.”

Is there a “border crisis”?

That depends on who you ask. According to some experts, the numbers of migrants heading to the U.S./Mexico border aren’t out-of-the-ordinary considering the time of year and the fact that COVID-19 made traveling last year virtually impossible.

According to Tom Wong of the University of California at San Diego’s U.S. Immigration Policy Center, there is no “border crisis”. “This year looks like the usual seasonal increase, plus migrants who would have come last year but could not,” Wong says.

As the Washington Post explained: “What we’re seeing right now is a predictable seasonal shift. When the numbers drop again in June and July, policymakers may be tempted to claim that their deterrence policies succeeded.”

What is the Biden Administration planning on doing about it?

As of now, it is pretty evident that the Biden Administration has not been handling this migrant surge well, despite ample warning from experts. As of now, President Biden has put Vice President Harris in charge of handling the issues at the border.

As of now, the game plan is still very vague. But in the past, the Biden Administration has stated that they plan to fix the migrant surge at the source. That means providing more aid to Central America in order to prevent further corruption of elected officials.

They also want to put in place a plan that processes children and minors as refugees in their own countries before they travel to the U.S. The government had not tested these plans and they may take years to implement. Here’s to hoping that these changes will prevent a case like the death of the 9-year-old migrant girl.

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Biden Administration’s Handling Of The Border Criticized By Both Sides Of The Aisle

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Biden Administration’s Handling Of The Border Criticized By Both Sides Of The Aisle

The Biden administration inherited more than an out of control pandemic when they got to work in January. The former administration also left the Biden administration an orchestrated crisis at the border. For some, President Joe Biden is not acting fast enough to fix the problem.

President Biden announced that Vice President Kamala Harris will lead the response to immigration at the border.

The approach, according to Politico, is going to be a two-pronged approach to effectively curb irregular immigration. First, the vice president will focus on stopping the migration journey by addressing the issues in the countries that people are fleeing. Particularly, Vice President Harris will be focusing on the issues in the Northern Triangle countries, which are El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

At the same time, the vice president will be working with the countries directly to solve the root problems. Vice President Harris will be working to strengthen the nation’s relations with Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

“I can think of nobody who is better qualified to do this,” President Biden told reporters at the White House.

There is a lot of talk about the U.S.-Mexico border right now from both Democrats and Republicans.

Bruno Lozano, the Democratic mayor of Del Rio, Texas, is calling on the Biden administration to take steps to curb the issue. Mayor Lozano was a guest on Fox News recently and spoke about what he saw as an influx of migrants coming into his town. Mayor Lozano told Fox News that the number of people coming to the border has strained Customs and Border Patrol in his city.

“You have a breach on national security levels that have never before been seen in modern history and you’re not even batting an eye about it, you’re not even calling it a ‘crisis‘, you’re calling it a quote-unquote challenge,” Mayor Lozano, told the New York Post on Sunday. “It’s a slap in the face.”

Some residents of Del Rio are critical of their local leaders shifting blame for their own shortcomings.

The brutal winter storm that recently shut down Texas depleted many municipalities of their resources. Residents in Del Rio are putting the blame on their local leaders who have tried to pass the buck. Weeks after the winter storm crippled Texas, grocery store shelves remained empty and residents felt overlooked.

Mayor Lozano has been pleading with President Biden to step up and help them deal with the influx of migrants. Del Rio has one processing center for migrants and the increase has left the city and the processing facility strained.

The Biden administration has faced backlash after photos of detention centers show people sleeping on floors.

There have been several reports that the Biden administration is building new places to hold migrants that have come to the border seeking asylum. The administration is currently taking in unaccompanied minors who are arriving at the border while preventing other migrants from crossing the border.

The Biden administration promised to change the approach to the border, but Title 42 has been left intact. Title 42, which was enacted by the former administration at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, keeps people from entering the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an order that invoked Title 42, which closed the border indefinitely due to public health concerns.

At the root of the attention is the claim that there is a surge of migrants.

Some Republican politicians are claiming that news of more lenient immigration laws is prompting a “surge” of arrivals. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California claims that what is happening is a “crisis … created by the presidential policies of this new administration.”

Yet, a Washington Post report debunks the idea that there is a sudden surge. Rather, what is happening, according to the report, is a usual seasonal trend. CBP has reported a 28 percent increase in apprehensions at the southern border in January and February but data shows an annual spike in migrants from March to May every year.

The issues on the border are complex and will require a lot of time and energy to handle effectively and compassionately. The Biden administration promised to tackle the complex issue of immigration during the campaign.

READ: Biden Is Counting On Mexico’s President To Help With Immigration But That’s A Risky Move

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