Dreams to Reality: Erika Andiola’s Fight For Immigrant Rights

St. Edward’s University welcomed immigrant activist Erika Andiola to the Recreation and Convocation Center date? last Thursday night for a speaking engagement. Her speech was full of triumph as well as heartbreak as She shared her story about what, briefly and without adjectives? and asked for support and action from the large crowd that had assembled to watch the impassioned speaker.

“I am undocumented, I am unafraid and I am unapologetic,” Andiola said. was the declaration of Erika Andiola to begin her speech. But these were not always her feelings. The story told during the event was one of uncertainty and courage in the face of a harsh reality for many undocumented immigrants. Andiola was candid in revealing her emotions following such harrowing events as the deportation of her mother and the loss of her college scholarship after anti-immigration laws were passed in Arizona.
Ok: You’re probably getting the idea by now. The key phrase about writing journalism is, “Show, don’t tell.” You are telling us, using adjectives and emotional language, how you think we should feel about what Andiola had to say. Your job, however, is to tell us clearly, accurately, using neutral language, what she said — and let us make up our own minds about what we think. So, get rid of the adjectives. If events were “harrowing,” show us what happened, so we can see it.

After the gymnasium floor had filled, the rest of the crowd filled the seats and the bleachers on both sides of the court. The crowd was a mixture of faculty, students, and family members. Some of the faculty were there as representatives of the various Freshman Studies courses with their students in tow. Others had brought young children to hear the words of a true activist.

The proceedings began with an introduction by Alex Barron, the Director of Freshman Studies at St. Edward’s AP Style: Titles are uppercase before names, lowercase when they appear after names. The event was part of the ongoing Common Theme program which is focusing on Immigrant Voices. There was a short Q & A after the speech and an introduction to Monarchs on the Hilltop, a campus group aimed at helping undocumented immigrants at St. Edward’s.

The speech was narrative, with Andiola telling her story of immigrating to the United States at age 11. She would eventually end up at Arizona State University with aspirations of becoming a school counselor. Her life would take an unexpected turn after Arizona passed legislation to no longer allow undocumented students to receive in-state tuition rates or public scholarships. Andiola spoke of surreptitious meetings of fellow undocumented students in the basements of the university and debates on whether or not they should have signs that advertised their gatherings, for fear of deportation. That group would eventually begin to host Coming Out of the Shadows rallies to create unity in the undocumented community. These rallies gave birth to the cry of “I am undocumented and I am unafraid.”

Her budding activism led her to the offices of U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona AP Style Senator John McCain, where Andiola and a group of undocumented students sat in the hallways in symbolic caps and gowns, demanding an audience for their concerns. Her activism brought attention to the group now known as Dreamers. After a defeat for the Dream Act in Congress, President Obama forwarded the agenda through executive order titled The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Andiola believed that could have been the beginning of a “normal life.”

Andiola’s story showed that activism has consequences and not all of them are beneficial. Following President Barack Obama’s executive order, Andiola’s mother was detained at their home and deported. Andiola was visibly emotional as she told the story of opening the door to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers asking for her mother. This event caused Andiola to question her activism. Had her actions been the cause of her mother’s deportation? Was her prominence putting her family in danger?

Instead of being defeated by adversity, Andiola would once again mobilized her activism to counter a perceived wrong, said whom? This is an opinion and your opinions do not belong in your news stories. She rallied the people who had helped to enact DACA to figure out a way to bring her mother back. And it worked. Andiola’s story shows that a mobilized community with a common goal can overcome the strength of the State, said who? Again, this needs attribution. Who did you interview about her? Did you interview people in the audience after her talk for their reactions?

 

Early last month, President Trump announced the end of DACA. The night of Andiola’s speech also marked the last day new DACA applications were being accepted. On Mar. 5, Look up the AP Style for months/dates 2018, all DACA benefits will cease. Unless someone fights for it.

Not surprisingly, Andiola has taken up this fight.

She Andiola voiced numerous concerns regarding the rhetoric of the current administration. She also voiced many of the arguments heard by the national audience regarding DACA and the people it affects. Andiola’s massage to immigrants now is “We’re not alone and you’re not alone.”

Andiola answered a few questions from the audience following her speech. She was asked about her role in Bernie Sanders’s campaign and whether she agreed with some of his policies. Andiola, who speaks easily about the issue of immigration, was a bit more evasive when asked about her thoughts regarding universal healthcare. She was also asked about what she likes to do to get away from the constant pressures of activism. She stressed to importance of avoiding “burn-out,” but also intimated that she may be guilty of not heeding her own advice.

The audience also heard from Joseph Ramirez, a member of the Monarchs on the Hilltop, a student group that looks to help undocumented immigrants at St. Edward’s.

Andiola left the audience with a call to action. She knows that the fight for DACA and immigrants is in danger -she said this or you are surmising it?. She told of how she has received death threats and increased online harassment since Donald Trump’s election. But she called on the audience to help her in the fight. When asked what can we do, she responded that we should begin by talking about these issues with those closest to us, our families. The difficulty of these conversations is not lost on Andiola, but her story of persistence contained its share of discomfort, but it never stopped her.

Before we Keep yourself out of the story all left, she asked for the audience to participate in a group activity modeled after how Cesar Chavez used to adjourn his meetings. Andiola led the crowd in a coordinated clapping that finished with one strong, unified clap. In that moment, most of the crowd was united behind her cause.

 

It is easy to be passionate about something. Moving from passion to action can be a difficult step. Erika Andiola personifies passionate action and gives an example of the success that can be gained from it.