Meet Lucia Quiej, The Woman Who Put A Face To The Immigration Debate

This undocumented Guatemalan woman stole the show.

The biggest moment of Wednesday’s presidential debate—the “Latino debate” since, after all, it was organized by Univision—didn’t come from Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton; it came from a Guatemalan woman who shared her pain with the world. Lucia Quiej stepped out of the shadow that every undocumented immigrant lives in and bravely told both candidates that her family was torn apart because her husband was deported for not having a driver’s license.

Lucia Quiej is a reminder that when it comes to immigration, it’s actual human beings we’re talking about.

It’s easy to be anti-immigrant when you think about the topic in the abstract: “THEY are coming into OUR country to take OUR jobs and drain OUR resources.” Under that framing, undocumented immigrants come across as faceless invaders. Lucia Quiej isn’t an ominous threat just waiting to take what’s yours. She’s a single mother trying to provide for five children. She too experiences frustration (yo, raising kids is hard!); she too feels pain, sadness, and suffering. (Did we mention her husband, who likely provided financial and emotional support, got deported?)

Lucia Quiej is the rule, not the exception.

What happened to Lucia Quiej and her five children wasn’t an isolated incident. In fact, her experience is all too common in Homestead, Flo., an agriculturally-driven city outside of Miami with a big immigrant population.

“There a lot of people here with ankle monitors, many children whose parents were taken away by Immigration,” Quiej told Progreso Weekly in 2014. “In Homestead, there’s nothing; only despair.”

WATCH: This FWD.us Video Shows the Disturbing Reality of Mass Deportation

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13 Things That Inevitably Happen When You're The Only Latino At The Office


13 Things That Inevitably Happen When You’re The Only Latino At The Office


Chances are, you’ve been the only Latino in a given place. And it can be… kind of a struggle.

Here’s why:

You’re expected to represent EVERY Latino ever.

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“Would Latinos be offended by this marketing plan?” “What do Hispanics think about Pitbull?” “Is it true that you guys loooove Morrissey? Talk to the branded department about it.” Bro, I don’t know. There’s like, more than two of us out here in the world.

…Which means people you work with might feel free asking you questions that are way too personal.

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“Who are you voting for?” “Do you just date other Latinos?” “What are your thoughts on machismo?” GO AWAY.

You worry that people only see you as “The Latino,” when it’s just one facet of who you are.

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We contain multitudes, just like anyone else.

You’ve been called by the wrong name.

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Note to everyone: “José” and “Jorge” are not interchangeable names.

Or just had your name butchered entirely.

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Pray for every Xochitl out there.

Cinco de Mayo becomes your own personal hell.

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People will drink half a margarita and wish the one Salvi at work a “happy Cinco de Mayo.”

…And Halloween can become an actual nightmare.

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Nothing says “I’m uncreative” like slapping on a fake mustache at the office Halloween party.

People treat you like an English/Spanish dictionary.

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“Translating a stranger’s Tinder profile” wasn’t on your resume.

You’re viewed as “diverse.”

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Too often, people think that having just one POC at the office means a place is “diverse.”

People make a lot of assumptions about you.

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“No, but where are you REALLY from?” is not a question you really want to explain at the office happy hour, or anywhere else.

…And, yeah, some of these assumptions can get pretty racist.

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True story: Like the scene from Cristela you see above, I know a young woman who was also mistaken for the building’s cleaning woman by a stranger visiting her office. Why assume that stuff, you know?

And when people make jokes about Latinos, you’re at a loss for how to react.

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Pick one: A. Laugh awkwardly. B. Call out the microaggression. C. Run out of the meeting, right now, at full speed.

Sometimes, people don’t even know what to call you.

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Sigh. Nationalities aren’t bad words, people!

So good luck out there, fam. We know it can be rough.

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READ: Your Office Might be Boring, Unless there are Some Latinos, Here’s Why

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