Things That Matter

These Illustrations Tell The Stories Of DACA Recipients In Their Own Words

When the White House announced the rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Pablo Stanley, designer and co-founder at Carbon Health, felt the impact.

“It made me sad. It made it so hard to come to work and put on a happy face as though everything is okay,” says the Mexican-American artist.

Stanley immediately started brainstorming how he could use his talents to support those affected and take some action.

The illustrator decided to create portraits of DACA recipients, so they could share their stories in their own words. And that’s how Dreamer Stories was born.

“In just reading their stories and giving them a platform to tell their stories you realize that their experiences and everything that’s going on is so heavy,” says Stanley. “I feel honored to be a bit of a vehicle for sharing these stories with the world.”

While many DACA recipients are feeling fear, anxiety, and sadness, Stanley made sure to also share their joys and smiling faces. It’s his hope to create a portrait of their dreams and show them as the regular people they are, living their lives and not succumbing to the narrative the media tends to paint of them.

“They’re people who are alive and want to do more than cry on a corner,” says Stanley. “Many of them are activists themselves. The situation they’re in has given them this super power of empathy. When I asked them what their dream is many said to help other people that are in my situation.”

Estefanía works as a paralegal community advocate at the Equal Justice Center in Dallas.

CREDIT: Image credit: Pablo Stanley

“Despite struggles, limitations, and uncertainty a big achievement for me is that I am the first generation college student in my family. My family always told me that I couldn’t go to college because of my legal status. It took a huge toll on me but thanks to a 2001 state law in Texas, it would allow me, an undocumented student to pay in-state tuition as long as I proved I had lived in Texas for more than three years. I also graduated from my university debt-free through private scholarships and my parent’s sacrifices! Today, thanks to DACA I have a full-time job, I bought my first car, I got my driver’s license, and I was able to travel to Italy through advanced parole for educational purposes during my undergrad year. And now, I plan on continuing my education by going to law school and becoming an immigration lawyer.”

Read her full story here.

Gibrán works full-time in retail while also going to school.

CREDIT: Image credit: Pablo Stanley

As far as his dream:

“I think learning English has been the primary challenge for me, my friends say it’s great but I feel I can still improve.”

Read more here.

Alonso was born in Peru and emigrated to the U.S. when he was 11.

CREDIT: Image credit: Pablo Stanley

“Growing up undocumented in Utah truly shaped me into the person I am today. My experiences growing up in the margins of society inform the work I do, and the work I seek to continue doing in this life. I am passionate about working with undocumented students and families and strive to share all my knowledge and experiences with the undocumented community as well as the community as a whole.”

Read the rest of his story here.

Nayeli came to the U.S. when she was six and will graduate in December from college with a B.S. in web application development and a minor in marketing.

CREDIT: Image credit: Pablo Stanley

“My first dream is to create or take part in a business that provides change and opportunities for other cultural groups. My second dream is to contribute to the breaking down of the digital divide by teaching minority groups how to use technology to help improve their business or everyday lives.

My final and maybe my greatest dream is to be able to support my parents financially so that they can finally retire. They have sacrificed their lives and time so that I could have a better future, and I only wish to be able to repay that back.”

Here is the rest of Nayeli’s story.

To read more, go to DreamerStories.com.


READ: There Are Many Ways To Help DACAmented People. Here Are A Few.

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Alejandro Mayorkas Is The First Latino And Immigrant To Be Named Secretary Of The Department Of Homeland Security

Things That Matter

Alejandro Mayorkas Is The First Latino And Immigrant To Be Named Secretary Of The Department Of Homeland Security

Joshua Roberts-Pool / Getty Images

Alejandro Mayorkas is the first Latino and the first immigrant to lead the Department of Homeland Security. Mayorkas is Cuban-born and was one of the original architects of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Alejandro Mayorkas is the first Latino and immigrant to be confirmed as the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

Secretary Mayorkas is inheriting a Trump-era DHS and is immediately getting to work to rectify issues that the Biden administration has highlighted. Two of the most pressing issues are heading up a task force to reunite migrant families who were separated by the previous administration and reviewing the “Remain in Mexico” policy.

“Remain in Mexico” is a policy that the Trump administration created and enforced that sent migrants to Mexico to await their asylum cases. The policy has been criticized both by U.S. and international politicians as a humanitarian issue.

It isn’t Mayorkas’ first time working for DHS.

Sec. Mayorkas was the deputy secretary of DHS from December 2013 – October 2016 under President Barack Obama. During that time, Mayorkas was crucial in responding to the 2013 – 14 Ebola virus epidemic and 2015 – 16 Zika virus epidemic. Mayorkas is ready to come back to the department and to bring back what he sees are the department’s mission.

“DHS bears an extraordinary weight on behalf of the American people, the weight of grave challenges seen and unseen,” Sec. Mayorkas said in a statement. “It is the greatest privilege of my life to return to the Department to lead the men and women who dedicate their talent and energy to the safety and security of our nation. I will work every day to ensure that they have the tools they need to execute their missions with honor and integrity. The mission of the Department of Homeland Security is to safeguard the American people, our homeland, and our values. The United States is a welcoming and empathetic nation, one that finds strength in its diversity. I pledge to defend and secure our country without sacrificing these American values.”

Mayorkas is no stranger to working on America’s immigration system.

Mayorkas is one of the original architects of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which is at stake because of the previous administration. The Biden administration has made a promise to preserve DACA and to create a pathway to citizenship to the 11 million undocumented people living in the U.S.

President Biden has introduced legislation to reform the current immigration system. The legislation has a timeframe for all undocumented people in the U.S. to become citizens if they follow certains steps and meet certain criteria.

While Mayorkas got bipartisan support in the Senate confirmation, some Republicans did not like his work in immigration. Sen. Marco Rubio, a fellow Cuban, voted to opposed Mayorkas.

“Not only has Mayorkas pledged to undo the sensible protections put in place by the Trump Administration that ended the dangerous policy of catch and release, but his nomination is further evidence that the Biden Administration intends to pursue a radical immigration agenda,” Sen. Rubio said in a statement.

READ: President Biden Introduces Legislation To Create Pathway To Citizenship For 11 Million Undocumented People

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These Terrariums And Fairy Gardens Are A Lil’ Homies Dream Come True

Culture

These Terrariums And Fairy Gardens Are A Lil’ Homies Dream Come True

botanical_homies / Instagram

Lil’ Homies are one toy that we all remember. They little figurines were so much more to us than little toys that we got from toy vending machines. Adrian Ortiz is using them to create something magical and giving people a non-Eurocentric take on terrariums.

Adrian Ortiz is giving Lil’ Homies their own terrariums in which to flourish.

Ortiz understands the cultural importance of Lil’ Homies because it was one of the first times he saw himself represented, like so many of us. The toys were a welcomed moment of representation for Ortiz after spending so many years seeing so many white narratives in the media and toys.

“I started making terrariums with Lil’ Homies in them as the figures because I noticed how traditional fairy gardens were always representing white/European figures,” Ortiz told mitú. “I thought about how perfect they were in size. I wanted to dedicate my art page to the idea of people of color existing and participating in nature.”

Ortiz feels supported from his followers as well as his boyfriend. His art has been a welcomed breath of culturally relevant plant art in people’s social media feeds.

The ongoing pandemic gave Ortiz a chance to dive deeper into a hobby he already had: plants.

“I have always been into plants and nature since I was a kid and I began making terrariums and fairy gardens in the past year to deal with the pandemic like so many others,” Ortiz says. “There is something super special about making miniature tiny living worlds. I wanted to make fairy gardens but I ended up with something halfway between terrariums and fairy gardens but with cholos. So I created the ‘Brown People Indoor Miniature Gardening TikTok’ series on my tik tok account.”

Ortiz’s TikTok account, aptly named @botanical_homie, has more than 7,000 followers showing that people are really into the idea of Lil’ Homies living their fairy garden dreams.

The terrariums are another chance for people of color to be represented in the world.

Ortiz was in an arts school for middle and high school. In that time, the school fostered an understanding of racial injustices and introduced Ortiz to the concept of artivism, art as activism. It was, according to Ortiz, a moment when he realized that he wanted to dedicate his art to BIPOC.

“I grew up and live in Colorado and have seen the lack of access BIPOC have to outdoor activities like hiking and mountain climbing,” Ortiz explains. “These are white-dominated sports and activities that some POC never get to experience. I want to create a world where we can be anything and do everything, even if it’s miniature. A utopia for us to take back what is also ours.”

Ortiz is making the terrariums for everyone, even people who struggle to take care of plants.

Covid quarantining has forced so many people to think they make perfect plant parents. Yet, taking care of plants is something that doesn’t com naturally. Ortiz had to spend time trying to figure out what plants are the best for everyone.

“Part of my challenge in creating these terrariums has been figuring out what kind of plants people can keep alive. They all have different requirements so getting plants should always depend on your space and lighting,” Ortiz says. “I come from the generation of YouTube so I always say do research, it’s part of the fun. The biggest thing about having plants that people don’t realize is that you just have to pay attention to them, often. But again it depends, some plants are indestructible.”

Ortiz is happy to be able to create this art and hopes to make them more accessible.

“If you want to support me and my art work you can contact me via Instagram about commissions,” Ortiz says. “Shipping these pieces is not easy or ideal so I appreciate everyone’s patience as I learn and evolve. My goal is to work on larger installations and I’ll be putting out DIY kits in the near future.”

READ: If You Call Yourself A Frida Kahlo Fan Then You Should Be Following These Five Artists

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