Earlier this week Jose Antonio Vargas, joined by ten other undocumented immigrants, announced the 1 of 11 Million campaign in Washington to urge the delay of deportations for the millions of documented immigrants in the United States. Vargas is founder of Define American, a national organization that uses stories to shift the narrative on immigration in America, and hopes to influence the executive action debate.
The campaign plans to tell the personal stories of 11 people who come from diverse backgrounds and whose experiences reflect many of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country. By providing a snapshot of our complex, outdated, and unpredictable system, advocates hope that changes announced by Obama will address the needs of communities nationwide.
Each person will apply for deferred action with the Department of Homeland Security in hopes of being granted a four-year deportation deferral while lifting up the communities they represent. This coordinated effort is to urge Obama to be as inclusive as possible with deferrals when announcing his executive action in the coming weeks.
“We are asking the administration, ‘How inclusive are you going to be?’” Vargas said. “Should any of these cases be left behind? I think they should not.”
Among the 11 applying are: a 37-year-old Senegalese man who has lived in the U.S. since 1985; a 34-year-old South Korean immigrant who arrived as a toddler; a German woman entrepreneur who has been in the U.S. for 28 years; and a Mexican grandmother in Alabama who is caring for her grandchildren in the wake of their parents’ deportation.
“This is about stories,” said Aly Wane, the Senegalese man whose story is featured, “[stories of] the people who often get demonized and often whose only crime is to exist and work in the U.S.”
Ivone Guillen is Immigration Campaign Associate for Sojourners.