"I’m thankful for the sacrifices my family made migrating to California from Mexico. My father always taught me to be proud of my dark skin. My Tia taught me Spanish, my grandfather searched store after store to find dolls with dark skin for me. But even as a child I felt the shame and rejection society puts on minorities and was embarrassed of my dark skin for a long time.

My dad is the most important person to me and the worst moment was watching someone spit at him and say “go back to your country” when he was just minding his business. My dad responded, saying he was proud of who he was which changed my perspective on a lot.

I moved to Ensenada, Mexico after high school for a couple years to work for a non-profit. It opened my eyes to the poverty and injustices my people face every single day.

The hardest part was coming back to California and hearing people say how they don’t want Mexicans in this country. When those same people saying that could never really understand the ignorance of their words. I’m proud of my culture, proud of my dark skin and proud to be wearing this tank top. I feel heartbroken seeing my culture and my people slandered and abused by ICE and our government. And I’m raising my kitty to be a proud Latina mami."

- Elizabeth

When my mother was 5 months pregnant with me, she swam across the Rio Grande River and made it into Brownsville, TX in 1988. She was an immigrant with the goal of coming to America to give birth to me. 

I’m proud to be a birthright citizen and am eternally grateful to my birth mom Alicia for making her incredible journey from Guatemala to Los Angeles just to put me up for adoption. Today, the treatment of asylum seekers is unforgivable and disgusting. Both ICE and Trump’s immoral immigration policies must be stopped.

- Kyle

I am truly so thankful for the sacrifices my father made when he came to the United States, how much he must have missed his home and his family, how many hours he had to work as an undocumented gardener in the bay area while his university degree gathered dust and his expired visa grew older and older. I am also very conscience of my privilege as a US citizen and the power that this status holds in today’s society. I hope I can continue to use this position of privilege to make way for marginalized, undocumented and vulnerable people’s voices to be heard. I grew up with undocumented friends who feared ICE raids and worried about their status and their families status more than they should have at their age. Children will almost always bear the brunt of dehumanizing and evil practices, especially when that practice is separating them from the people they love. I could never imagine my father being taken from me simply due to the fact that he didn’t have a piece of paper saying he “was allowed” to be here. understanding what is going on in this country is step number one, acknowledging it, number two, doing something is the final and most important step. 

ICE look at me baby, lo vas a pagar, espérennos.

- Camilo

I was six years old. It was March 1999 & all I knew was that we were going to “Nueva York” to visit my grandma & my aunt. I remember how stressed my mom was at the airport when they checked our bags. The guards opened our luggage & rummaged through our things, questioning our intentions - were we just visiting or were we staying? Things had gotten really rough in Ecuador. In 1999, the sucre (the Ecuadorian currency) lost 67% of its foreign exchange value. Then in one week, it nosedived 17%.

Our quality of life plummeted. Our family car was sold (later, I learned it was actually repossessed). We left the house I remember growing up in entirely empty. But my mom kept telling me we were just visiting.

My family came on a tourist visa, which we all overstayed. And from there, you inevitably live in fear. There are days where you forget, but the fear always comes back. My parents tried their best to shelter me - they knew I would worry - but I picked it up pretty quickly. You don’t need words to explain fear. You just sense it.

My dad hustled to provide for our family: He shelved items at the 99c store, went door to door to sell pots and pans, computer software games, you name it. My mom did everything she could to be present & was at every teacher conference, field trip, and graduation.

I was undocumented until I got my green card at 19 years old. But by then, I had already foregone high school college acceptances, & when my grandma died I couldn’t go back to Ecuador. I couldn’t risk my immigration process.

At 25, I *finally* became a citizen. On the Uber ride back, I looked at my naturalization certificate & started crying uncontrollably. I thought about all of the sacrifices my parents & family made so that I could stay here, finish my education, find a path to citizenship, and find a way to go to college.

I’m 26 now & I still haven’t gone back to Ecuador. I have 9 uncles & aunts from my dad’s side, over 25 cousins, & many people who we consider family.

I can only hope that I’m making them proud. They can’t come here, so I’m saving money to go back. I can’t wait to surprise my parents with flights to Ecuador soon. It will always be home.

- Genesis

My paternal grandparents came to the US after surviving the holocaust. After arriving they discovered that most of their family had been murdered in concentration camps. My grandma grappled with overcoming her trauma of Auschwitz, Dr. Mengele, and various other work camps while my Grandpa was haunted by memories of being a prisoner of war.

My mom fled Vietnam on a cargo plane with her parents when she was 21. My grandmother died from breast cancer a few years after arriving. My grandfather, once a professor in Vietnam, had to take jobs as a janitor in the US. My mom provided for her family and went to college after being in a refugee camp in California for 3 months. 

- Alana


"My Mae moved from Bangkok to California after meeting my father through the hospitality business. She knew nobody here. Due to a very unhealthy marriage she had to leave our family regularly to be in Thailand where she had a support system. Eventually she moved back to Thailand, but she had no career in either place & had to rebuild herself completely in her own home country.

There were times growing up I didn't see my mom for 1-2 years. So when I was 19 I took a term off from college so I could live with her for a long stretch. Since I turned 20 I have worked while getting my degree so I could fly myself 5 times now to see her. My mother was never encouraged to pursue U.S. citizenship so it is still a long process for her to come here. I recall being a kid and hearing her yelled at by airport officials because she didn't understand complex immigration laws. She came back for the first time in 8 years only last year and we are currently in the process of getting her citizenship."

- Ash