Posted by Phoenix Immigration Attorney Nick Alcock:
The story behind the cover article featured in the current edition of Time Magazine is in large part due to the remarkable and tireless efforts of a young Arizona resident named Erika Andiola. This is a story that had been brewing long before President Barack Obama’s announcement of suspending deportations for young, undocumented immigrants. Written by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, himself an undocumented immigrant from the Philippines, it’s the story of 36 undocumented immigrants from around the world who were illegally brought to the Unites States by their parents as children.
But the main figure behind all of this is Ms. Andiola, an Arizona State University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in psychology who was brought to the U.S. at the age of eleven and does not have legal documentation. She lost her scholarships when Arizona passed laws affecting immigrants. With employers afraid to hire the undocumented, she hasn’t been able to find a job. Considering Arizona’s aggressive push against Latinos in the state, Ms. Andiola had every reason to be fearful. But instead, she decided to take an aggressive stand. She got involved with Promise Arizona, a grassroots civic engagement organization with a mission to recruit, train and support a new generation of leaders from across the state and register Latinos to vote. She also dedicated herself to championing the DREAM Act. She spent countless hours camped in front of Senator John McCain’s Phoenix office in the summer heat with the “DREAM Army,” supporters who worked tirelessly to educate elected officials on the Act. She knew she might be arrested, and eventually she was.
Ms. Andiola also confronted Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, a national figure behind anti-immigration legislation. Pearce did not appear pleased and nearly had her arrested on the spot. Ms. Andiola who believed so deeply in her cause, knew personally that arrest with the possibility of deportation would be life-altering, especially for someone so young. Despite this, Ms. Andiola’s single-minded dedication to social justice came before her personal gain.
While on “Good Morning! Arizona” Ms. Andiola was asked why she hadn’t gone “through the proper channels to become a citizen?” Ms. Andiola replied, “we had no money and we’re just trying to survive,” explaining that her family left Mexico to escape domestic violence. “My mother has been trying to get her papers, but it’s been a mess.”
Ms. Andiola said she is pleased with President Obama’s announcement last week. Having spent more than 15 years in the U.S., however, she believes the work of the “DREAMers” is not done yet.
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