My name is Andrea Leon-Grossman. I immigrated from Mexico in September of 1993, and I am the first in my family to graduate and the first to become an activist.
I was fortunate to get a scholarship to go to Art School and graduated with a BFA in 1996. After graduating, I worked as a graphic designer at La Opinión newspaper and began the struggle of navigating the immigration system to keep my legal status. As a Mexican national it proved not to be a small feat.
I hired my first immigration attorney and had an awful experience. I realized it was not just the attorney – the system was fundamentally broken. But even though I had it tough, I realized there were many more who had it way tougher than me. I started talking to my representatives and got a caseworker. I became an activist.
Five years later when one of the most anti-immigrant bills appeared on the scene – it would have criminalized undocumented people in this country – I joined the march for immigrant rights in Los Angeles. Organizers were expecting about 100,000, but the final count was close to 750,000.
When advocates of the bill held town hall meetings to demonstrate that American people wanted undocumented immigrants to be deported, I tried to attend. As it turned out, the “public” event wasn’t as public as advertised, and only selected (anti-immigrant) speakers were allowed in. I stayed outside and became the de-facto spokesperson for the couple of immigrant rights groups that were in attendance.
I am now an Art Director, and I love my profession; but being able to speak up and be an activist is something that makes my heart beat louder, harder and faster. I am proud to be able to elbow my way into my representatives offices as much as being able to pitch a story to the media and shed light on important issues.
Nowadays, I am able to combine my profession and my passion working with NGOs and doing what I can to promote environmental justice and immigrant rights.
In 2011, nearly 18 years after I arrived to this country, I received the great news about getting my permanent residency, and earlier in 2016, 23 years after arriving to this country, I was sworn in as an American citizen. I will finally be able to vote in the country I live in!
Having personally gone through the immigration bureaucracy, through miles of red tape to acquire my solar rooftop and electric car as a way to protect the environment, I realized how deeply broken the system is and how many corporations are fighting to keep the status quo.
An obscene amount of money is spent in contributions to ensure elected officials will be in place who will keep corporations’ interests in mind. I am a firm believer that if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem; so I chose to be part of the solution and got engaged.
I hope other Latinos also get civically active. Elected officials work for us, we need to remind them of that and hold them accountable.
“I believe in the power of education and voluntarism, and I owe it all to my mother, who was a single parent and didn’t make it to high school herself. Because of her, and the opportunities opened up to me through DACA, I now proudly serve my community though various democratic organizations including a previous Congressional internship with Rep. Jackson Lee. We must keep fighting to keep and expand DACA for those who are still in the shadows and don’t yet have the opportunity to contribute to society.”
In the 2000 election my mother and I became the first in our family to vote in the Iowa Caucus.
I was born in Honduras and came to the United States when I was 7 years old. I spent 8 years as an undocumented immigrant. Growing up, we lived in fear, and I saw friends and family get deported to one of the more dangerous countries in the world.
Because of the sacrifices my mother made in the early-mid 80s when she came to the U.S., she and I eventually became naturalized citizens.
I could hardly grasp the enormity that only a decade earlier I was a child running through the poor streets of Honduras and now, here in Iowa, I had the opportunity to cast a vote for the next President of the United States.
Today as the Political Director for LULAC’s Iowa Chapter, I fight to make sure that one day other families have that same privilege.
It is important that all Latinos be civic minded and engaged. I’m proud to work in Iowa to identify new Latino voters and to train the next generation of Iowa Caucus goers.
I hope my story motivates other Latinos to participate in the democratic process and stand up for the millions of members of our community who don’t have the right to vote and make their voices heard.
My name is Patty, Senior Producer for Ryan Seacrest Radio Show, and I am a First. And here is my story:
The story behind Lil’ Libros is an example of what happens when the American Dream meets the Latina mother. Two mothers, each raised by Mexican immigrants, began a mission to encourage parents to begin reading with their children at the earliest of ages. The result of that mission…is Lil’ Libros.
It all started when Patty was pregnant with her first baby. It was her desire to ensure that her son was raised in a bilingual environment and that he learned to understand, respect and appreciate their family’s culture.
So she immediately began working on Lil’ Libros.
Upon receiving rejection letters from the biggest publishing houses in the country, Patty channeled her Latino fire and became even more convinced that Lil’ Libros needed to be made. It was then that she reached out to her best friend and partner in crime, Ariana Stein.
Without any publishing experience, they decided to use their personal savings to fund their passion project, on their own!
Their determination has been a proven success. In just 10 months since inception, they have managed to get the attention of thousands of loyal customers…and Target! This Fall, Lil’ Libros will be available at over 600 Target stores nationwide!
In addition, the series and creators have been featured on WashingtonPost.com, NPR, Univision, Buzzfeed, Telemundo, People En Espanol and others!