The co-founder of the largest U.S. organization run by young immigrants has been named one of the 100 most influential people of 2018 by Times Magazine.
Dreamy, known genius, inspiration. Those words barely describe Cristina Jiménez, the Executive Director of the United We Dream organization (which fights for young people who came to the US not by choice, brought by undocumented parents). Ecuadorian, migrated at age 13 to the United States.
She grew up surrounded by xenophobes and racists’ hostility, endured verbal abuse that eventually moved her to find her call in the fight against injustice. Herself and other students from the university came together and she saw in this union and youth the power of transformation that this community had in their hands. And she hasn’t stopped since. She turned her undocumented status into a movement that advocates for the legal status of young people who arrived just like her, who have grown and contributed to that country.
That search for justice, their experiences, the example of their parents’ sacrifice of giving them more opportunities have turned her into an icon that has transformed the conversation about immigrants in the United States. Her participation in the campaign to create DACA (Childhood Difference Action Program) with President Obama was essential to raise a project that brought peace, education and hope to immigrant communities.
Apart from that and several achievements she has collected so far, at 33, there is one that stands out for the prestige it represents: the scholarship she received in 2017 from the MacArthur Foundation. This scholarship is known as the “genius scholarship,” and “it is one of the highest and most prestigious honors that creative leaders can receive in the United States.”
With the money she has received from this foundation, she plans to continue her activism against, what seems like today, the most aggressive environment against the “DREAMers” (migrants who have come from children to the US) under president Donald Trump’s threats. Cristina’s goal is to protect the more than 800.00 who live in an environment of uncertainty and to continue working until the policy of the United States is transformed so that they can live with the hope and peace they once had under the mandate of the previous president.
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