Humans of CIRC – Paola Grimaldo

August 26, 2019

When did you first get involved with the immigrant rights movement?

I’m a DACA recipient, my friend was also a DACA recipient, so when we heard that Trump rescinded DACA, we were really scared of what was next. We heard that there was going to be a walk out, and we weren’t sure if we would walk out in the event, but we looked at each other and we were like, “Okay, let’s go.” So we walked out, and I was so worried, and then I saw Victor speaking, and he kind of gave us all a little bit more hope. Everyone was saying, “Okay, Undocumented and Unafraid.” It gave us a sense of empowerment. 

What does that phrase mean to you? 

Being undocumented and unafraid means that we know this risk that we are facing. We are aware of what’s happening in our community, and we’re not just hiding in our homes. We’re coming out and teaching everybody their rights so that when ICE knocks on your door, you know exactly how to handle that. It’s coming together as a community to fight this oppressive system that’s in place. Undocumented and unafraid means that even though we’re seen as second class, we’re fighting to change that. Because that’s not how we feel. We’ve shown the government with our actions that we are capable of this and so much more. So undocumented and unafraid means that we are not gonna be quiet anymore.

And how does your current position fit into that fight?

“Being a Federal Campaign Organizer has given me the chance to actually put my ideas and everything that I’m thinking on the table, it gives me a place to actually speak up about my experiences and how bills like HR6, the DREAM and Promise Act, could impact other people’s lives too, how it could help us all out. 

Part of your work involves tracking down Senator Gardner to urge him to support that bill. What has that been like? 

The first thing I said to the Senator when we saw him was, “Let me plan my life out more than two years at a time.” I really wanted to give him an insight into what it’s like to have DACA. I don’t know if I’m gonna be here in two years, if I make a mistake and get something on my criminal record, if for some reason I don’t file my DACA renewal correctly, if I lose my status. School wise, job wise, career wise, family wise, I’ve been living my life two years at a time. Having a pathway to citizenship like the bill HR6 includes would change so much. It would give me a chance to go to school for law, because I know I’ll be able to practice law when I’m a permanent resident. I’ll be able to buy a home because I know that in ten years, I’m still going to be here.

— Paola Grimaldo, Federal Campaign Organizer