136: Cristina Jiménez - Daring To Dream And Fighting For The Undocumented
Ecuadorian born, she became an undocumented migrant at 13, founded United We Dream, the largest youth-led US organization, fighting to protect and defend the rights of undocumented immigrants at 23, a MacArthur Fellow at 33; welcome this week/s guest, social justice activist Cristina Jiménez
In this double length episode, Cristina recounts the story of her upbringing, being born in Ecuador, her early memories of living through the political and economic turmoil of Ecuador in the 90’s.
She describes her father’s athleticism and how his mental fortitude instilled resilience and determination at an early age and how her mothers empathy became a characteristic she embraced. She reflects growing up with an abundance of love and being unaware of the economic challenges her parents faced.
Cristina discusses arriving in Queens New York as an undocumented migrant child unable to speak English in the summer of 1998. Early on she experienced the shame, discrimination and exploitation immigrants encounter and we discuss the anxiety and fear that exist for immigrants with no status.
She discusses the added pressure and racial profiling she experienced following 9/11 and the hatred and discrimination that ensued.
Cristina sets out how the narrative shifts and changes in the policy and politics of immigration led her to begin her social justice fight.
She also describes the challenges she faced accessing further education, how her advocacy began using her pseudonym Sandra and how this experience gave her a taste of the power of community action.
At 1 hour into the interview, Cristina begins to discuss the beginning of her United We Dream movement and it’s interconnectedness with other movements like Black Lives Matter. She discusses congressional inaction, detention camps, the lack of progress to create pathways to fix immigration status and why both parties are responsible for the impasse
She discusses how she and her teams campaigning and public shaming of the Obama administration led to Obama to sign an executive order to protect dreamers in 2012
We then cover the damaging effect of Covid19 on the indigenous, black, brown and immigrant communities, why they have been impacted more, the systems of discrimination and Cristina uses the example of Elmhurst hospital in Queens to emphasize the inequity and injustice facing minority communities.
Cristina explains why her fight is a battle for the soul of the country, the possibility of change, her hopes for undocumented immigrants, her evolving role, and the future of democracy.
We end with all our quick fire questions.
I hope you are uplifted by the vitality, vision and courage of Cristina Jiménez
Cristina's personal Social Links
Links in The Show