“Isn't it kind of ironic that we're undocumented, but you have to prove that you're undocumented with all these documents?,” Angy Rivera concludes in one of her videos. Angy is a college student born in Colombia and raised in New York City who shares her story of immigration with the world in hopes of humanizing this complex discussion.
A few years ago, Angy publicly announced that “she was not afraid to be undocumented,” and since then she has been writing a column in English called Ask Angy in which she responds to endless questions, doubts and comments that she receives on a regular basis.
Angy explained to Global Voices in an interview via email that while she participated in a training session at the New York State Youth Leadership Council, she was asked what she wanted to incorporate into the work plan, and she suggested: “an advice column.” That was how the first column dedicated to guiding undocumented youth arose at a national level and is published on the organization's website.
This column has already been featured on numerous mainstream media sources (BBC News, NBC Latino, New York Magazine) as well as many online forums organized by activists. The column discusses topics that deal with personal relationships, human rights, education and work. Although recently certain legal processes, particularly the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program, are the most widely discussed issues.
Her videos on YouTube are also very popular and complement the information provided in her written work. Angy also shares her visual creativity, poetry and of course her sharp sense of humor. In the following video, for example, she talks about her hopes now that President Obama has been reelected and has just proposed “comprehensive immigration reform.”
In general, her audience's comments have been quite positive. Many have shared their stories with her, others constantly thank her for being an inspiration. Nonetheless, there have been hurtful and even threatening comments as well. “I have been told that life would be better if I didn't exist, that I should kill myself, that I'm a cockroach, that I'm just taking up the country's space and resources. People have wished that not only I, but that my family, would be deported,” Angy explains in our email conversation.
Below is another ingenious video entitled “More than 9 Digits,” which somehow undermined the reactionary tendencies present in some of the comments published online:
The activist recognizes that her story (much like that of many “dreamers“) motivates others to join the movement in favor of immigrants and if they do not join, may they “do the best in their lives because they become aware of the privileges they have.”
If tomorrow Angy were no longer classified as undocumented, her demands would continue to be important, particularly when speaking about deportation, second class citizens, and the country's transformation. If in the future she is granted “American citizenship” it will not be difficult to imagine her initiating debates on the unconditional respect for human rights, independent of one's migration status.