On the #Immigration MIC this week we have Alyssa who is an immigration paralegal and aspiring attorney, who actually contacted me about an important story she needed to share.
Alyssa an immigrant herself of Cuban and Tunisian descent, born in Tunisia and arrived in the US at a year old, but she identifies strongest as Cuban from Queens. Though she wasn’t able to be a part of the island because of the strict travel laws, she experienced her culture through music and food.
“I was born an American citizen, away” – Alyssa’s mother came to the US as a political refugee and as a result, Alyssa became an automatic citizen, and growing up, she absorbed Latin culture from all the different people around her.
While in college and majoring in Latin American studies and communications, and through volunteer work, Alyssa’s world began to take shape as she began seeing demographic patters through a national and international lens. Since college, she’s travelled all over; she cites Morocco as the most eye opening experience – she recounts children having their eyes sewn shut to encourage tourists to give more.
During one of her last semesters, Alyssa worked directly with unaccompanied minors who had recently been detained at the border, and how the work as an advocate can be traumatizing – relaying an anecdote as to why they are discouraged from having close content with the children they see. We discuss the disconnect between the work in the legal sector and the actual human face on immigration – which is wide according to her. We talk about the end of Wet Foot, Dry Foot, the reactions of Latinos, and how some Cubans try to be as disconnected as possible from the immigration conversation.
So here’s the story. Alyssa was walking outside one morning, and saw a woman having a seizure. The woman woke up and started freaking out about the ambulance coming. Alyssa asked the hard question: are you undocumented. And the lady said yes, I’m scared they’re going to deport me. “She’s scared in this era of Trump.” Alyssa wanted to do everything possible to help, but by the legal system, she wasn’t able to do anything.
“THE WHOLE THING, THE WHOLE SYSTEM” – when I asked her what it is about the immigration legal world that needs more of a voice. Because of these experiences, Alyssa is one hundred percent committed to becoming an attorney, to help, to fight for justice, to advocate for people that are suffering because of the nation’s broken immigration system – her goal is to go down to the border and “see the wall that is costing people their lives”.