For National Hispanic Heritage month, we’re featuring a wide array of Latino activists at the forefront of immigration reform. The series highlights activists from teenager Carmen Lima, who was just 13 years old when she confronted Speaker of the House John Boehner about pushing immigration legislation, to former Arizona State Sen. Majority leader Alfredo Guiterrez, who has dedicated his life to representing immigrants in Arizona and now considers himself “an old man of the movement.”
In the wide-ranging interviews, activists show that there are many ways to be involved in the immigration reform movement but being fearless is a common denominator across the board. “In the political realm, undocumented people have risked a great deal to stop deportations,” Marisa Franco of #Not1more Deportation Campaign said. “That’s not fearful, that’s courageous, and I think some elected officials should take note and match that courage.”
Whether an undocumented activist or an American activist, there are huge risks to being outspoken in the debate over immigration and even more so in the fight to protect the 11.3 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. While President Obama and Congress have yet to reach a resolution on the issue, these are 16 activists, among hundreds of others, who continue to provide critical support services, legal aid, and compassion to immigrant communities.
“I can’t just stop now,” Lima said. “People are counting on us.”