January 27, 2023
These Activists Are Fighting for Immigrants’ Rights. Will Congress Listen?
By Lisa Herforth-Hebbert
In 2012, young people pushed for the establishment of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. But the work is far from over.
Growing up, Norma Gonzalez remembers how their parents were afraid to even drive down the street. As undocumented immigrants who spoke only Spanish, their parents feared racial profiling from the police. “Throughout my life we had to move all over Texas. I was getting into a new school once or twice a year,” said Gonzalez. “It was really hard because of my parents’ status. We had no financial stability. We had to keep looking for different jobs.”
Moved by their family’s experience, Gonzalez became involved in immigrant advocacy, eventually serving as the Lead Organizer at United We Dream for Texas, the largest youth-led immigrant advocacy group in the nation. Gonzalez said they first found the organization in college when a fellow student government member invited them to come to a meeting. Three days later, Gonzalez found themselves on a 23-hour drive to the United States capital.
“[We] were going to Washington, D.C., to fight for the DREAM Act back in 2018. I went there not knowing what to expect at all. My mom was scared because she didn’t want me out there to protest,” said Gonzalez. “She thought it was very scary. And honestly, I was scared too. But I went there and I felt something I hadn’t felt in years. I felt community. I instantly felt recognized.”